lawyer must uphold justice

Continuous absence of counsel in a case amounts to obstruction of the cause of justice and therefore contempt of court.

Mfa v. Inongha [2014] 4 NWLR (Pt. 1397) 343 at 369, paras. C-D, per Ngwuta, JSC:

“Also, continuous absence of counsel in a case he is handling as shown in the record of the trial court amounts to obstruction of the cause of justice and therefore contempt of court.”

Blogger’s Note:

The learned Justice of the Supreme Court in making the above pronouncement relied on the cases of McKown v. R (1971) 16 DLR 390 and Izuora v. R (1953) 13 WACA 313.

Indeed, it is equally unethical for a counsel, as a minister in the temple of justice, to engage in any form of conduct that interferes with the wheel of justice.

The above case bordering on land tussle (between a father and his sons) had a chequered history. The records showed that the Appellants and their counsel were repeatedly absent at the trial court. Consequently, the learned trial Judge closed their case on the prompting  of the Respondent after the Respondent had himself closed his case, and adjourned for judgment. The Appellants thereafter applied for leave to reopen their case. Leave was granted. The Appellants further applied that the matter be transferred to another Judge on the ground that the trial Judge was biased. The application was dismissed and the Appellants’ counsel was called upon to proceed with their defence. Appellants’ counsel however sought for an adjournment to enable him take the message of the Ruling to his principal. The application was refused. Judgment was subsequently delivered in favour of the Respondent. The Appellants’ appeal up to the Supreme Court on ground of lack of fair hearing was unanimously dismissed. The apex Court held that the court has no business pursuing a recalcitrant party in order to hear him.

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