The Ghana Bar Associations Code of Ethics provides that a lawyer shall not do anything in the course of practising as a lawyer, or permit another person to do anything on his behalf, that compromises or impairs or is likely to compromise or impair any of the following:
- the lawyer’s independence or integrity;
- a person’s freedom to instruct a lawyer of his choice;
- the lawyer’s duty to act in the best interests of his client;
- the good repute of the lawyer or of the lawyers’ profession;
- the lawyer’s proper standard of work; or
- the lawyer’s duty to the court
At Beyuo & Co, we believe that it is essential to the relationship between a lawyer and his client that the lawyer should be able to give the client impartial and unbiased advice free of constraints imposed by the influence of a third party.
Our clients chose to instruct us by their own volition and as lawyers we must not be under pressure, whether financial or otherwise, from a third party, which might influence the nature of the advice given to the client.
At Beyuo & Co, before we accept any brief or instructions, we must satisfy ourselves that we are competent and have the adequate time to prepare and conduct the case. If at anytime we consider that it would be in the best interest of the client to have different representation, we will immediately advise the client. We have an added obligation to consider, whether the client’s best interest would be served, by instructing or continuing to instruct us.
If, however, the client insists that we do the case, we must ensure that it is work we are competent enough to do. Before taking instructions we must determine whether a conflict of interest exists or will arise which prevents us from acting/continuing to act for that client.
In addition to the conflict of interests, a fiduciary relationship exists between us and our clients.
Our duties are as follows:
a) To promote fearlessly and by all proper and lawful mans the client’s best interest.
b) To preserve the confidentiality of our client’s affairs
c) To act with reasonable competence and maintain professional independence.
d) To keep our client’s informed of the estimate and likely impact of costs.
Once we accept instructions on behalf of a client we are bound to carry out those instructions diligently and promptly. This duty in conduct is supplementary to the statutory duty to carry out work with reasonable care and skill implied in a contract to supply services.
We must carry out our client’s instructions within the area of the client’s express or implied authority. When taking instructions we should ensure that the client understands and consents to any actions that we propose to take on our client’s behalf, and that the extent of our authority is clearly understood by both the client and the lawyer.
We would always obtain our client’s express authority unless the matter is urgent and the client’s consent cannot be obtained. We owe a duty to a client to deal with the client’s affairs promptly. This includes dealing promptly with correspondence relating to the client’s affairs.
During a retainer we are under a duty to keep the client properly informed. This duty includes informing the client of recent or impending changes in the law where such changes would affect the client’s affairs. We must comply with a client’s reasonable requests for information concerning his affairs and should at regular intervals report to the client on the progress of the client’s case or transaction.