LAW 452 Law Ethics : Essay Fountain

Question:

On the GDL you will study two modules that are assessed through the submission of coursework.
 
1. Ethics and Professional Legal Practice.
 
In addition to passing the Legal Method Examination, the Ethics and Professional Legal Practice module is assessed through the submission of a 2,000 word essay on an ethical dilemma. You will be given a small selection of titles to choose from reflecting the different professional contexts in which you may wish to practice as a lawyer. The essay will assess your ability to research, plan and execute a piece of written work within the context of legal ethics. In this module you will be provided with guidance on these key skills which will also be of assistance for your Research Project or Law of Organisations Coursework.
 
2. Choice of either Research Project or Law of Organisations
 
On the GDL you will have the choice of undertaking either
 
The Research Project module, assessed through the submission of a 4,500 word essay on an area of law, beyond the core principles of the Foundation Subjects, that is of interest to you and your potential career OR
 
The Law of Organisations module, assessed through the submission of a 2,000 word legal report on an allocated problem based learning question in relation to the Law of Organisations.
 
Both if these modules assess your ability to independently research, plan and execute a piece of legal writing (using the research and communication skills developed through the Ethics and Professional Legal Practice module). All Coursework requires the fulfilment of the same learning outcomes and are assessed on the basis of the Assessment Criteria for Coursework, as set out in section 7 of the Student Handbook.
 
 

Answer:

Introduction

Under the law, bar is deemed as the legal profession as an institute; and a barrister, known as bar at law, is deemed as a kind of lawyer, in the common law jurisdiction. It is a common perception that the barristers indulge in grey areas of the law, in order to bring the most favourable results for their clients, particularly in the present world of increased competition and decreased fees. All this makes it important for the Bar to be an example of high ethical standards. Even with the commercial pressure being placed on the barristers at the present time, the requirement of maintaining high ethical standards continues to be at the top. This comes at such a time where the profession of barristers is under high scrutiny from regulators, public and the media, where the significance of maintaining high standards is emphasized, particularly because of the perceptions amongst the people of the barristers using the grey areas. This has resulted in the professional ethics becoming a hot topic. This discussion is focused on showing that the Bar continues to be a standout example when it comes to following high ethical standards.

In the nation, the Parliament of UK has passed the Legal Services Act, 2007 makes an attempt to liberalize and regulate the legal services market in England and Wales. This legislation seeks to encourage more competition and also provides new route for the complaint to be raised by the consumers. The regulatory objectives of this legislation have been covered under section 1 where eight distinctive objectives have been provided. These include the promotion and protection of public interest, supporting constitutional principles of rule of law, protection and promotion of interests of consumers related to the legal services, improving upon the access to justice, promotion of competition in the legal services provision, encouragement of strong, independent, effective and diverse legal profession, promotion and maintenance of following the professional principles, and increasing the understanding of public regarding the legal rights and duties of the citizens.

 

The professional principles which are covered under section 1 of this act include authorized persons to act with integrity and independence, to maintain proper standards of work, and acting in the client’s best interest. These principles also provide that the individuals who exercise before a court a right of audience or where the conduct litigation related to the proceedings in court owing to the virtue of being authorized individuals have to follow their obligations to court for acting in autonomy in interest of justice. Lastly, the professional principles provide that the matter of the client needs to be kept confidential.

The duty of promoting regulatory objectives has been imposed on the Legal Services Board through section 2 to 7. There is also a consumer panel which represents the consumers, which are covered under section 8 to 11. This legislation also covers certain reserved legal activities under section 12 and schedule 2. These include conduct of litigation, exercising rights of audience, notarial activities, probate activities, administration of oaths and reserved instrument activities which are the activities related to real property and land registration. This list is open to be amended through the Order in Council of Chancellor. There are different regulators which ensure that the provisions covered under this act are adopted, and these include Bar Council, Law Society, and Council of Licensed Conveyancers.

The Bar Council has presented the consultation on the future bar training, for shaping the training and education requirements of the prospective barristers. Included in this is the role of Inns being highlighted in context of developing and nurturing the shared culture of Bar. This document also provides that the barristers share a culture of following or conforming to the high standards of professional and behaviour ethics. This is not due to the fear of being punished where they do not behave in a proper manner, but due to the belief shared by them regarding the moral imperative of upholding high professional standards.

The summary of the provisions, which are covered in this provision provide the need of upholding standards and following ethics while the work of a barrister is being undertaken. Due to these reasons, professional ethics are deemed as one of the key areas for training on the programme of newly created ICCA, i.e. Inns of Court College of Advocacy, which had been created in 2016 June. The ethics of barristers is underpinned in the focus of best interest of clients and the crucial role which is played by the barristers in the society, as they are the people who secure justice being administered and also help in upholding rule of law. Being a barrister is way more than just being in a business and there is a need to properly perform the work so as to follow the high ethical standards.

 

There are different ethical issues which are raised in the practice of barristers. The first and foremost one is that lawyers use aggressive strategies to intimidate people. From the viewpoint of consumers, the barristers have the power and they use it against them. However, in this context, the Legal Ombudsman has stated that where such behaviour is faced by a consumer, particularly where they get a sense of powerlessness, they can make a complaint of the barrister. This is done in context of protecting the interest of the clients, where they are properly protected from any unruly behaviour, where it stands against their best interest. It is basically a mode of ensuring that the aforementioned principles of the quoted legislation are properly upheld and met with.

There have been committees which look after this context and ensure that the work of the barristers is undertaken in the best possible manner, where the ethics are upheld. The Ethics Committee ensures that the barristers serve on ethical lines and also publicise such practices amongst the practitioners. The ethical angles are identified where the attempt is to genuinely strive to get on the right solution. The members are made to first port of call and where there is any unsure thing or the colleagues do not go hand in hand, an ethical enquiry line is called in. There is thus a high level of awareness regarding the existence of line in a general manner.

In context of upholding the ethics in the profession of barristers, the revised Code and Handbook is provided to the members and this is useful even when it appears to be intimidating. Often the seniors, juniors and the practitioners alike are filed with dread when they have to navigate their view through it. Even though the old Code of Conduct seems to very short, but it came with lengthy annexes which had to be covered; and in this context, the structuring of the new code is an improvement. The current code of conduct is a document where the attempt is made to identify the basic obligations and then attempts to highlight the guidance and rules which these infer in practice. There have been suggestions where the Code of Conduct have been stated to be a document which is short one, but where this is done, a lot of ambiguity would remain regarding different elements, which is of no assistance to any party. There is a need for finding the right balance between the core principles and in the detailed guidance and rules.

The Bar Council assists the councils in acting in an ethical manner, and in helping the Bar Standards Board doing its job where they provide a more practical approach in a manner where it is not weighed down in handbook in dictatorial manner. The purpose of ethics being maintained at all times is ensured through the guidance of Bar Council being revised constantly where the practitioners are provided with the up-to-date guidance as is possible. The individual committee members give their time in the most generous manner to the work of updating the guidance as this is a valued work.

 

In order to highlight why there is so much focus on the ethics being followed by the barristers, there is a need to highlight the possible scenario where ethical issues can be raised for the barristers. The need for self reporting can be emphasized through an example. During one of the trials in a lower court, tempers flared and a lot of abusive words were exchanged in between the opposing counsels. Since the year of 2014, the barristers have been imposed with a duty of reporting themselves and even each other to the Bar Standards Board and yet none of them reported the incident. There is a duty of reporting instances where there are reasonable grounds of deeming such instance as serious misconduct. This is particularly to be raised in context of public interest and the duty is framed around this interest. There was a need for barristers to behave in an ethical manner where they reached a sensible judgement regarding the situation. This cannot be deemed as a serious misconduct, but where the same is felt necessary, it has to be brought up.

Where there had been such an issue that the court had been misled, then that had to be reported and failure to do so would have been deemed as a failure of adhering to the applicable code. An example of this can be seen in context of Kandakar Abdul Quddus who had been in breach of Paragraphs 301(a) (iii) and 901 of the Code of Conduct. Quddus’s conduct was such that the public confidence in legal profession was diminished and the profession was maligned. This was due to him agreeing to set or run a chamber where the goal was awarding pupillage, which was against the guidelines of bar council on pupillage regarding interview, advertising, short listing, and selection and remunerating pupils. This was along with the awarding of puipillage to different parties.  This resulted in Quddus being suspended for 24 months from practice and being asked to pay costs of £2247.00.

Due to these reasons, the bodies like ICCA give a priority on ethics. The work of Circuits, Inns and Bar Council is very significant in context of promoting high ethical standards, and it also is complementary to the peer to peer being undertaken on daily basis in robbing rooms or chambers. The junior end of the inns have a particularly important role which helps in enabling new practitioners to have a fine tuned basic ethical radar where they learn from the experienced practitioners when they discuss their issues. Even though guidance is issued and seminars are conducted, there is a constant role to be played by the Bar in the active work undertaken by the barristers.

 

Conclusion

Thus, on the basis of discussion undertaken in the previous segments, it can be concluded that there are a lot of measures which are undertaken by the bar and the other bodies in order to ensure that the barristers follow high ethical standards. There are situations where the barristers come across ethical issues but these have to be dealt with as per the code of conduct presented to them through the Bar. These help in clarifying on what the right conduct is, and when the barristers can be made liable for being unethical. A real life example of Quddus was highlighted to explain the manner in which the barristers are disciplined where they do not act as per the given code.

The high level of ethical standards is not just ensured through such threat of disciple but also through the training provided by the Bar Council where they train the banisters to work with highest level of ethical standards. Apart from this, through the legal services act, the barristers are made to learn about the right and wrong conduct, through the restrictions and objectives presented through this legislation. All in all, the plethora of measures adopted in this context make the bar as a standout example of adherence to high ethical standards.

 

Bibliography

Artesi D, ‘Leading the way on ethics’ (January 2017) <https://www.counselmagazine.co.uk/articles/leading-the-way-ethics> accessed 04 April 2018

Bar Council, ‘Bar Council response to the Bar Standards Board Consultation on Future Bar Training: Shaping the education and training requirements for prospective barristers’ (January 2018) <https://www.barcouncil.org.uk/media/627546/bar_council_future_bar_training_response_0118.pdf > accessed 04 April 2018

Bar Standards Board, ‘Past findings and future hearings’ (2018) <https://www.barstandardsboard.org.uk/complaints-and-professional-conduct/disciplinary-tribunals-and-findings/past-findings-and-future-hearings/?DisciplineID=74825> accessed 04 April 2018

Chambers and Partners Ltd, ‘Ethics and the law’ (2018) <https://www.chambersstudent.com/where-to-start/newsletter/ethics-and-the-law> accessed 04 April 2018

LSB, ‘Approved regulators’ (2010) <https://www.legalservicesboard.org.uk/can_we_help/approved_regulators/index.htm> accessed 04 April 2018

Mason M, ‘UK: Room at the Inns—The Increased Scope of Regulation under the New Bar Standards Board Handbook for England and Wales’ (2014) 17(1) Legal Ethics 143

Sampson A, ‘Don’t be afraid to complain about your lawyer says Legal Ombudsman’ (The Guardian, 15 October 2012) <https://www.theguardian.com/law/2012/oct/15/legal-ombudsman-complaints-lawyer> accessed 04 April 2018

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