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WHERE COUNSEL ABSENT, BRIEF WILL BE DEEMED ADOPTED

Dictum

The Respondent’s Brief of Argument dated and filed on 3rd November, 2020, which was settled by Adedotun Ishola Osobu Esq, was deemed adopted pursuant to Order 19 Rule 9(4) of the Court of Appeal Rules, 2016.

— A.B. Mohammed, JCA. ITDRLI v NIMC (2021) – CA/IB/291/2020

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APPEAL TO SET ASIDE COST AWARDED AGAINST COUNSEL SHOULD PROVIDE TENABLE REASON

Before I round off, learned senior counsel for the Appellant has urged this court to set aside the costs of #5 million awarded against J.O. Olotu, Esq, counsel who settled the Appellant’s brief at the lower court. Without belabouring the point, let me state clearly that the Appellant has not placed before this court, any tenable reason or argument why the lower court’s order as to costs should be set aside or interfered with. Hence, the Appellant’s prayer in that regard is refused.

— A. Jauro, JSC. PDP v INEC (2023) – SC/CV/501/2023

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LEGAL PRACTITIONERS ARE TO KEEP ABREAST WITH THE PRONOUNCEMENTS OF THE SUPREME COURT

The Supreme Court had re-emphasized the binding effect of its judgments on the lower courts in the case of ODEDO v PDP & ORS (2015) LPELR-24738(SC), where Kekere-Ekun, JSC stated at page 65, paras. B – E, as follows: “The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. By virtue of Section 235 of the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria 1999 its decisions are final. In other words, a decision of the Apex Court settles the position of the law in respect of a particular issue and becomes a binding precedent for all other courts of record in Nigeria. Legal practitioners have a responsibility to keep abreast of the pronouncements of the Court and advise their clients accordingly. It is wrong to ignore decisions of this Court and seek to perpetuate a position that has already been pronounced upon. This is one of the causes of congestion in our courts and must be discouraged.”

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THE RATIONALE FOR LAWYER-CLIENT PRIVILEGE

The general principle on which the above statutory provision is grounded is as stated by Holden J in the case of Iris Winifred Horn v. Robert Rickard (1963) NLR 67 at 68 or (1963) 2 All NLR 40 at 41 as follows: “Every client is entitled to feel safe when making disclosures to his solicitor or counsel, and there are cases establishing firmly that counsel cannot be called to give any evidence which would infringe the client’s privilege of secrecy.”

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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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PROCESS SIGNED BY A FIRM OF LEGAL PRACTITIONERS IS NOT VALID IN LAW

The said section 573(1) of Companies and Allied Matters Act Provides as follows:- ‘Every individual firm or corporation having a place of business in Nigeria and carrying on business under a business name shall be registered in the manner provided in this part of this Act The above is not an authority that can be relied upon to uphold the view that a process signed and filed by a firm of legal practitioners which has no live is valid in law. The general provision of the law as in section 573(1) of Companies and Allied Matters Act is subject to the specific provisions of section 2(1) and 24 of the Legal Practitioners Act. See: FMBN v. Olloh (2002) 4 SC (Pt. 11) 177 at 122-123; Kraps Thompson Org.v. NIPSS (2004) 5 SC (Pt.1) 16 at 20-21.

— J.A. Fabiyi, JSC. FBN v. Maiwada (2012) – SC.269/2005

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PENDING DETERMINATION BY THE CCT, THERE IS NO LAW THAT PROHIBITS A LEGAL PRACTITIONER (EVEN IF A PUBLIC SERVANT) FROM RIGHT OF AUDIENCE IN COURT

‘The right of audience in court is governed by the Legal Practitioners Act. It is clear from the provisions of sections 2 and 8 of the Legal Practitioners Act that as long as the name of a legal practitioner remains on the roll, it is wrong to deny him right of audience in court. The procedure for removal of names of legal practitioners from the roll or to deny a legal practitioner right of audience in court is clearly set out under the Legal Practitioners Act. It is only for non-payment of the yearly practising fee that a court can deny a legal practitioner whose name is on the roll the right of audience in Court. The Legal Practitioners Act, does not provide for any other circumstances for denying a Legal Practitioner the right of audience in court apart from the direction of the disciplinary committee or by implication from the constitution, as a result of an Order by the Code of Conduct Tribunal. Support for this view can be found in the decision of Benin High Court Presided by Justice Ogbonine, in the case of OLOYO V ALEGBE (1981) 2 NCLR 680, where his Lordship Ogbobine, J. rejected an objection against the appearance of Mr. Alegbe in court (and while leading other lawyers) for himself as the speaker of the Bendel State House of Assembly. Hear his Lordship. “I do not think it is right for any court to disqualify a Legal Practitioner from practicing his profession, except on very sound grounds set out under the Legal Practitioner’s Act and other enabling law and regulations made to that effect”. It is beyond reproach that the primary legislation that disqualifies any person whose name is on the roll from acting as Barrister and or Solicitor officially or in private is sections 8 (2) of the Legal Practitioner’s Act, which deals with payment of practicing fee.’

— S. Kado J. Akazor Gladys & Ors. V. Council of legal education (NICN/ABJ/346/2017, 20th day of March 2019)

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