COURT CONDEMNS LAWYER FOR MAKING FALSE SUBMISSION JUST TO WIN AN ARGUMENT

El-Hanan Ventures Ltd. v. R. M. S. Ltd. [2021] 10 NWLR (Pt. 1784) 211 at 232-233, per Hassan, JCA.*

It is also the contention of the Appellant that the enrolled Order did not reflect the Judgment, as the trial Court only made orders in respect of reliefs 1 and 3 while in the drawn up Order, the Court was said to have granted all the reliefs. I observed sadly that the ascription to the finding of the lower Court was a complete misrepresentation by the Appellant’s Counsel. What he ascribed as the Judgment of the trial Court is not correct. The trial Judge at pages 266 to 267 of the record stated in the Judgment thus: “In the final analysis, I find that the Plaintiff has proved his claim against the Defendant as required by law on the balance of probability and preponderance of evidence. He is therefore entitled to Judgment and the reliefs sought in the claim.”
I do not understand what benefit the Appellant’s Counsel was trying to derive by making a false submission that it was the holding of the trial Court. I find this dubious way of practice thoroughly regrettable.

Put simply, the Appellant’s Counsel attempted to mislead the Court of Appeal on the import and extent of the trial Court’s Judgment. The trial Court had granted all the reliefs of the Respondent. The Appellant’s Counsel argued that the trial Court didn’t grant all the reliefs. The Court of Appeal had to read through the Judgment of the trial Court and discovered that the Appellant’s Counsel was wrong. 

It is unprofessional and unethical for a Counsel to mislead the Court. Counsel’s duty to the Court is paramount. That duty is the obligation to assist the Court to do justice by advancing logical arguments which accords with reason and flows from the established facts of the case. Thusly, the interests of clients come second in the order of priority.

Meanwhile, it must be noted that there is no professional demand on Counsel to win cases at all cost. The consequences of being unprofessional or unethical may be costly.

 

 

*Judgment delivered on 23 March 2020.

 



Stephen Azubuike
Author: Stephen Azubuike
Stephen is a lawyer with expertise in Commercial Dispute Resolution and Technology Law practice. He is a Partner at Infusion Lawyers. He has successfully argued cases from the High Courts of various jurisdictions to the Appellate Courts on behalf of financial institutions, other corporate bodies and multinationals. He has advised a number of both established and startup tech companies. He tweets @siazubuike.

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