Duty of lawyer 1st to court

Duty of lawyer 1st to court

Postby Nige » Mon Jan 05, 2015 1:02 pm


Long before I awoke from the Matrix I took out one of these online 'ask a UK solicitor a question' services. Needless to say I have been underwhelmed with the service, with often quite acidic replies when touching on the fringes of 'LEGAL'.

Whilst I have enormous respect for Veronica, and I love the 2nd Ed of the FiNJa7LW book, there continues to be a fair bit in there which is American. Although there are vast parallels, there are diversions too.

One point that shocked me when I read it was the CJS business of a lawyer's first duty was to the court, not the client. So I figured, why not try and ask the UK solicitor the question as to whether such an imperative existed in UK law. Here's what he said:

In relation to your second part of the question, yes there is a similar rule, this is known as the overriding objective. Lawyers are governed by various rules and regulations and whilst they have a duty to their client, the first and overriding duty is to the Court, a Lawyer is not permitted to mislead the Court in anyway, however, they are further not permitted to act out of their client's best interests, except in exceptional circumstances.

Hope this is useful to someone.

Best wishes and Namaste.

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Re: Duty of lawyer 1st to court

Postby huntingross » Thu Jan 08, 2015 10:46 pm



“The decision of this House in Hedley Byrne & Co. Ltd. v. Heller &PartnersLtd. [1964] AC 465 cast doubt upon the facile explanation, which had been current for a hundred years, that a barrister's immunity from liability for economic loss sustained by a client in consequence of his incompetent advice or conduct, was due to his incapacity as counsel to enter into a contractual relationship with his client. In 1967 these doubts were tested in your Lordships' House in Rondel v. Worsley [1969] 1 AC 191 and the explanation, which would have covered all work undertaken as a barrister however remote from litigation it might be, was rejected as legal folk lore. If the immunity in respect of any part of his professional work was to be maintained, some other legal justification would be needed for it.”
“The special characteristic of a barrister's work upon which the greatest stress is laid by their Lordships was that he does not owe a duty only to his client; he owes a duty also to the court. This is an over-riding duty which he must observe even though to do so in the particular case may appear to be contrary to the interests of his client. Furthermore a barrister has to exercise his judgment as to where the balance lies between these competing duties immediately and without opportunity for calm reflection as the trial inexorably proceeds. His ability to give his best service to the court and to his client, it is said, would be diminished if he were compelled continually to give consideration to the possible effects that the way in which he exercised that judgment might have upon his own liability to his client for negligence.”

he does not owe a duty only to his client; he owes a duty also to the court

It is difficult to place your trust in someone when you realise there exists a conflict of interest from the moment they are appointed. The subtleties of betrayal will go unnoticed until you are royally lost.
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