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A COUNSEL WHO SETTLES A PROCESS IS ALSO A COUNSEL IN THE MATTER

Dictum

A counsel who settles a process in a court is also a counsel in the matter and it cannot be right as held at the trial that Igboekwe Esq. was not a counsel or had not appeared for the appellants. The said Igboekwe Esq. had been specifically mentioned in the application for adjournment as the senior in chambers who will handle the reply to the application that was moved.

— Danjuma, JCA. Tony Anthony Nig. Ltd & Ors. v. NDIC (CA/L/630/2009 • 25 January 2011)

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NATURE OF RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CLIENT & COUNSEL

The nature of the legal relationship between Counsel and his client, which exists in this case between plaintiff and PW1, his Counsel, is one of an independent contractor and not one of principal and agent. (See Performing Right Society Ltd v. Mitchell &.Booker Palais de Danse Ltd (1924) 1 KB 702 at page 365 per McCardie J). It is not that of master and servant. Counsel is clearly not a servant of his client. It is accepted that where a client gives specific instruction to Counsel, such instruction must be adhered to. Where the nature of the specific instruction is in conflict with the manner of discharging his professional skills and interferes with his control of how to conduct the case of his client, Counsel is entitled to return the brief to his client. Counsel who is in law, the dominis litis is not bound to obey any such instructions. It is in the exercise of his apparent general authority in the discharge of his professional duties to his client, to have complete control how such instructions are to be carried out, and over the conduct of the case.

– Karibi-Whyte, JSC. Afegbai v. A.G Edo State (2001)

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WHO IS A LEGAL PRACTITIONER

However, a legal practitioner is a person entitled according to the provision of section 24 of Legal Practitioners Act, 1990 to practice as a barrister or as barrister and solicitor either generally or for the purpose of any particular office or proceedings.

– C. M. Chukwuma-eneh, J.S.C. Okafor v. Nweke (2007) – SC.27/2002

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DRAWING UNINTENDED CONCLUSIONS FROM JUDGES STATEMENTS

Sir James Bacon, V.C., said in Green’s Case (1874) L.R. 18 Eq C.A. 428:- “In the judgments which Judges pronounce, this is inevitable, that having their minds full, not only of the cases before them, but of all the principles involved in the cases which have been referred to, it very often happens that a Judge, in stating as much as is necessary to decide the case before him, does not express all that may be said upon the subject. That leaves the judgment open sometimes to misconstruction, and enables ingenious advocates by taking out certain passages, to draw conclusions which the Judge never meant to be drawn from the words he used.”

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IMPORTANCE OF LAWYERS IN THE SOCIETY

DENNING, MR., in Pett v. Grey Hound Racing Association (No. 1) (1968) 2 ALL E.R. 545 at 549: “It is not every man who has the ability to defend himself on his own. He cannot bring out the points in his own favour or the weakness in the other side. He may be tongue-tied, nervous, confused or (even) wanting in intelligence. He cannot examine or cross-examine witnesses. We see it every day! A magistrate says to a man: You can ask any questions you like, whereupon the man immediately starts to make speech. If justice is to be done, he ought to have the help of someone to speak for him, and who better than a lawyer who has been trained for the task?”

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COUNSEL (APPEARING FOR HIMSELF) WILL HAVE HIS MISTAKES VISITED ON HIM

In Kotoye v Saraki 1995 NWLR (Pt.395) 256, in circumstances where the party (who is also a legal practitioner) took a decision not to appeal. Uwais J.S.C (as he then was) at Pages 7 and 8 said: “Any act of gambling involves risk taking and no gambler can claim not to be aware of that. When a counsel makes a mistake, such mistake or its consequence should not, in general, be visited on his client who, in most cases is a layman. Can the defendant/applicant who has been or is a legal practitioner be such a client? I certainly think not. There is therefore, no good reason given for the delay bringing this application.”

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