Q. What are the things to note when engaging a Lawyer?
A. Generally, before engaging the services of a Lawyer, a client must know whether the Lawyer has a valid Practicing License Number for the current year and whether the Lawyer practices with a Registered Chamber (Chambers Registration License is renewed annually).
Q. What should I expect after satisfying myself that the Lawyer has the, Practicing License and the Chambers Registration Certificate?
A. You must expect an engagement letter, which would set out the terms on which the Lawyer is prepared to work together with the fee structure.
Q. What are the primary duties of my Lawyer?
A. The primary duty of your Lawyer is to advise you in and out of Court and to act for you on the subject, and until his authority is withdrawn he has, with regard to all matters that properly relate to the conduct of the case or representation on the subject-matter, unlimited power to do that, which is best for you.
Q. Under what circumstances can I change my lawyer on record in a case?
A. When the lawyer who acts for a party in a cause or matter dies or becomes bankrupt or cannot be found or fails to take out a practicing certificate or his name has been struck off the Roll of Lawyers or has been suspended from practicing or has for any other reason ceased to practice or the client no longing requires his/her services.
Q. Can I terminate the services of my Lawyer during the pendency of a case?
A. You may do away with the services of your Lawyer and engage a new Lawyer, or assume conduct of the case in person, at any time during the pendency of the case or subject matter on which he was engaged.
Q. What must I do to change a Lawyer representing me in court?
A. Your newly appointed Lawyer must file in the Registry, a notice of the change, indicating the number of the current Lawyer’s practicing license. A copy of the notice, duly indorsed with a statement that it has been duly filed in the Registry, shall be forwarded to the former Lawyer and all parties who have entered appearance. You must make sure arrears of legal fees due the former Lawyer are settled or payment arranged before engaging a new Lawyer.
Q. Is a Lawyer obliged to represent me in all matters and under what circumstances can a Lawyer refuse to accept a case
A. A Lawyer in practice is bound to accept any briefs in the Court in which he professes to practice at a proper professional fee, unless special circumstances justify refusal to accept a particular brief. As a general rule, a Lawyer must not accept a brief with a limited authority to act as a Lawyer, or take a subordinate position in the conduct of the case or share the conduct of the case with the client if the client is a lawyer. Some of the circumstances that justify refusal to accept a particular brief include conflict of interest, participating in illegality, or failure to take the lawyer’s advice, etc.
Q. Is my Lawyer at liberty to withdraw from a case I have employed him to handle in court?
A. A Lawyer representing a party to a suit is at liberty to withdraw his services and return the brief of the client being represented. However, the brief must not be relinquished to the detriment of the client except for good cause.
Q. What happens when my Lawyer withdraws from my case in my absence?
A. The Court may adjourn the proceedings for the hearing notice to be served on you.
Q. Can a lawyer withdraw his services in a court case without notice to the Court or me?
A. Generally, until a withdrawal is communicated to you and the Court, the former Lawyer would remain on record as your Lawyer till the matter is concluded in the Court. Thus when your Lawyer does not intimate to the Court that his authority is at an end and the Court has not granted leave for a Lawyer to withdraw from the case, the Court is entitled to consider the solicitor as still representing you.
Q. What duty does a lawyer owe to me after the lawyer withdraws from my case?
A. It is the duty of the Lawyer to return all documents filed and received in respect of the matter to you from whom it was received.
Q. What is the status of my former Lawyer until he/she withdraws formally from my case?
A. Unless and until a change or a discharge of a Lawyer, the former Lawyer shall be considered the Lawyer of the party until the conclusion of the cause or matter in the Court.