Is the Bar still a stand-out example of adherence to high ethical standards?” – Desiree Artesi, ‘Leading the way on ethics’ (Counsel, Issue January 2017)
Explain and discuss the above with reference to the ethical dilemmas faced by barristers and the Bar Standards Board Code of Conduct.
Number of words can go up-to 2000 but ideal number is 1750 (footnotes don't count towards word count, same as quote and question). this essay will be submitted through turn it in.
Main references that need to be included are:
1) Article itself (Desiree Artesi, ‘Leading the Way on Ethics’ );
2) The Bar standards Handbook (2nd edition)
2) Herring J, Legal Ethics (2nd edn, Oxford University Press 2017)
3) Legal Services Act 2007
4) Nicolson D, ‘Making lawyers moral? Ethical codes and moral character’ (2005) 25(4) LS 601
5) Postema GJ, ‘Moral Responsibility in Professional Ethics’ (1980) 55 NYUL Rev 63
6) Chambers and Partners Ltd, ‘Ethics and the law’ (2018) <http://www.chambersstudent.com/where-to-start/newsletter/ethics-and-the-law>
7) Lawyers Ethics and professional responsiblity by Andrew Boon
This essay needs to include cases as well (possible cases):
Bolton v The Law Society  EWCA Civ 32
Copeland v Smith and another
Rondel v Worsley
Case of Frances Andrade (from newspaper/ public point of view when she was drove to suicide by extensive questioning)
The Bar Standard Board and its role in maintaining ethical standards
Barristers in UK hold an important place and they have to take part in the commercial matters in active way. However, they have to maintain the ethical standard in all aspects. The Bar Standard Board plays an important part in this case. This has been mentioned in the Desiree Artesi’s Book named ‘Leading the way on ethics’. She that professional ethics is an important matter and that should be maintained at all the levels of profession has contended it. It is an obvious fact that the barristers should have to comply with all the essential facts for maintaining their high standard and in this case, they should not violate the provisions of their ethical consideration. According to Andrew Walker (2017), the professional ethics work for the best interest of the client and the society in a broader way. However, problem arises when a different demand has been made in case of different stages of the profession. In Advocacy, the nature of work in criminal and family matter is different. Further, it can be observed that the experience of the clients regarding a matter and commercial nature of the practice deny the ethical grounds of consideration in the legal profession. Therefore, it is very much required to maintain the ethical standard within the profession and the authorities should have to maintain the norms of the Bar Standard Board Code of Conduct.
From the very beginning, it has been emphasized that the Bar has been cited as an example that has been adhering to the codes of ethical standards. However, in modern era, the truth has been universally acknowledged because of increase in competition. It is noteworthy to mention here that, in recent era, the barristers are facing various commercial pressures however; the requirement to maintain high ethical standards remains the same. Therefore, it is worth noting that, at present legal profession has found its way under greater scrutiny from the side of the general public and various regulating bodies for adhering to the high standards of ethical principles. In modern era, various scholars have hotly debated the concept of professional ethics.
It is worthwhile to refer here that one of the important reasons to mandate the legal practitioners or barristers to act according to the high ethical principles is to make reference to a concern on the part of the legal professionals that they have received appropriate education in the field of legal and practical ethics. It is evident that from the beginning, justice has been in the hands of the barristers and the Bar Standards Board Code of Conduct in UK. Therefore, in order to get proper access to justice as well quality of legal process from the barristers, the clients had to deal with various processes. However, in such process, the legal practitioners other than providing appropriate solution to the clients caused much harm to their professional and ethical conduct. It is worth examining, that in some cases, these barristers or legal practitioners treated their professionalism as a business which in turn created a negative impact on the citizens regarding the fact that law as a profession has been poorly represented. In this regard, scholars were of the opinion that, cases involving loyalty towards clients as well as overzealous representation may create negative impact upon the opponents and may affect the third parties. In the perspective of modern authors, in most of the cases, over loyalty towards clients created great impact upon the decision of the administration of justice and considerably harmed the interests of the general public. After such realization regarding ethical dilemmas which are being faced by these legal professionals and the Bar Standards Board Code of Conduct, the topic of professional legal ethics has been hotly debated in the UK. From the very beginning, the citizens of UK were skeptical about the role played by legal professionals. On the other hand, the government authorities were concerned about the position of public morality, access to justice and the quality of legal services which the general public could assess for the purpose of making standards of ethical codes an integral part of legal education. Traditionally, legal profession was based upon the questions of morality and public justice. In modern era, these questions have been replaced by the distinction between academic and vocational issues in legal education. In this regard, it is noteworthy to mention here that legal practitioners in relation to the fact have faced various ethical dilemmas that whether they should act according to the moral considerations of their clients. The ethical dilemmas faced by the legal professionals are also concerned with the fact that to what extent they should go in order to act according to the interests of their clients. The ethical dilemmas are also concerned with the fact that what would be the limits of maintaining client confidentiality and to what extent the barristers should go in order to avoid conflict of interests.
The significance of professional ethics in the legal profession
In order to explain the extent of ethical dilemmas faced by the barristers and the Bar Standards Board Code of Conduct, three different cases can be explained. In Bolton V The Law Society Ca 8 Dec 1993, it was observed that the legal practitioner involved in this case has been involved in disbursing the money of the clients to the relatives. It has been emphasized by such legal practitioner, that the activity was conducted in order to pay conveyance of property along with an expectation that the money will be paid back. However, it was found by the Tribunal that the barrister possessed good character and acted honestly as he had not stolen client’s money. In this regard, the Divisional Court heard a fresh application presented by the barrister as a evidence of his good and moral character. The application has however rejected by the Divisional Court. In this context, the Court in support of such rejection made various statements. It has been stated that the barrister has breached the ethical rules and regulations of the Law Society. Therefore, it is required on the part of the barristers to act in good faith while discharging their professional duties and they should have to discharge their duties with integrity and trustworthiness.
In Copeland V Smith, the case was regarding the claim for compensation. In this case, it was observed that the barrister have not drawn the decision given by the Judge to a decision of the Court of Appeal. If this was done then the matter would have settled conclusively. In this case, it was held that the barristers have not discharged their duties in accordance to the code of ethical standards. It was also held that it is the duty of a legal practitioner to draw the attention of the judge to the concerned authorities. However, in the present case, the solicitor failed to do so.
In Rondel V Worsley, it was observed that the plaintiff has obtained legal services from the barrister (defendant) for the purpose of defending him on a dock brief. In this case, it was alleged by the claimant that the barrister was negligent in his act. Therefore, it was held by the Court that advocates not act according to undesirable pressure created by their clients for the purpose of discharging their duties to the client. In this regard, the Court applied various test in order to determine that whether the barrister was negligent in his act.
Ethical issues faced by barristers in their practice
According to Peter McFarlane, the loyalties of the advocates have two dimensions. They have to work for the social construction and for the best interest of the clients. Therefore, certain conflicts have been cropped up in certain circumstances. A Barrister should have to work in a way that follow the rules of the court and that should not harm the ethical interest of justice. Commitment regarding the legal ethics is based on the Code of Ethics and Standard of Professional Practice. Barristers and advocates are the integral part of our society as they maintain the law and rules in our society and help to establish the notion of justice. According to the view of Jerry Seinfield (2010), an advocate or barrister is the person who knew the legal norms of the country. When a criminal activity has been done, the advocates help to justify the offence and establish the principle of justice in the society. Therefore, ethical consideration should be maintained among them.
It has been observed that the legal profession is facing certain problems today. The rules of law are not being maintained properly and the common people find it difficult in accessing into the legal advices. Further, the advocates are failed to apply their honesty, fidelity, diligence and competence regarding the interpretation of legal norms. An advocate has certain fiduciary duties while dealing with the clients and therefore, they have to carry on their profession for the best interest of the clients. The barristers are required to perform their duties in ethical ways. However, there are certain ethical issues the barristers have to face during their practice. The main problem accrued when conflict in between the professional interest and client’s interest made. Further, it has been observed that the barristers have to face problem when they wanted to communicate in between the two public interest. A barrister should be liable for the benefit of his party and he should act in such way so that the dignity of the client can be secured. However, it is unethical for the barristers to act for both the parties. it may give birth to serious risk to the parties and the dignity of the legal profession can be hampered. In addition, legal advice plays an important in case of legal profession and all the clients should have to get a free access to the advises. A barrister should have to disclose all the options available to the clients regarding a case. he must not hide any option from the client and should not act in a way that can be contrary to the interest of the clients. They have to perform their duties in good faith and ethically.
The importance of maintaining ethical standards for the legal profession
According to Desiree Artesi, “the Code of Conduct is a document which tries to identify the core duties, and then to show in rules and guidance what those mean in practice.” According to Andrew Walker, the ethical standard within the profession is promoted by the Code and proper norms for mitigating the dilemmas should have to be mentioned in the Code. In UK, the common people are quite skeptical regarding the integrity of the advocates and the barristers. The government of UK is quite concerned about the legal rights of the common people. However, the legal profession is facing many dilemmas while dealing with the clients. In certain circumstances, it is tough for the barristers to act for the interest of the clients by maintaining the ethical consideration and contradiction regarding the provision of the Advocate’s Ethics is the main problem regarding the same. Further, the limitation regarding the confidentiality of the information made by the clients before the barristers and advocates are also vague and cause serious ethical problem in this case.
The Bar Standard Handbook generalizes certain terms that work as guidance for the barristers and the legal professionals so that they can professes their business in an ethical way. The core ethical duties of the advocates are mentioned in the Code clearly and a balance in between the rules and guidance regarding the ethical rights of the barristers has been made in the Code and in the Handbook. However, certain duties have been imposed on the Bar Standard Board regarding the unethical moves of the barristers while performing their duties. According to Rule 2 of the Legal Profession (Professional Conduct) Rules (2010 edition), an advocate should have to maintain the integrity in the profession. The ethical consideration of the barristers has also been discussed under the provisions of the Legal Services Act 2007. All the professional rules regarding the ethical matters have been construed under the Act. The barristers are conferred with certain duties for the protection of justice and they need to do it with ethical submission.
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