The Criminal Justice System and the Code of Conduct

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The Criminal Justice System's Commitment to Professionalism and Ethics

The criminal justice system has grown a notch higher when it comes to serving the public. One key area is how it aims at achieving the highest professional and ethical standards. As a result, the system has established a code of conduct that works hand in hand with the Legal Service Act of 2007 to ensure that all service providers in the system seek to not only meet their clients’ needs but to also comply with the laws set to streamline the operation and transparency of the system. The following essay scrutinizes a case scenario that involves a client and her solicitor. It aims to reveal the different ethical and professional issues that emerge and relate them to the code of conduct as stipulated in the second part of Bar Standards Board (BSB) handbook. However, it draws evidence from other notable sources to make a clear argument free from bias of any kind.

The Responsibility of a Legal Practitioner

Charlie, a legal practitioner bears the responsibility of representing Lucy who has been charged for committing murder. As an officer of the court, there are instances when counsel may be called upon to act on behalf of their designated clients as it is the case for Charlie and Lucy. For instance, “oC1 the court is able to rely on information provided to it by those conducting litigation and by advocates who appear before it” While proceeding to handle such a matter, the solicitor is expected to exercise utmost professionalism while being bound by ethics.[1] The legal domain remains to be one of the few career options that depict a noble standing and thus practitioners in such a field should embrace sanity as well as unquestioned levels of discipline altogether. The rules that guide Charlie’s behavior prohibits him from misleading the court in any way or abuse his role as the solicitor. For this purpose, Charlie must perform his duties as a professional and comply with all the rules stated under rC3.[2]

Ethical Implications of Prejudging a Client

Charlie has acquainted with his client and gets to her past history. As soon as he finds out that Lucy has been involved in organized crimes, he becomes reluctant to represent her.[3] He thinks her as immoral as she has made all the wrong choices in life. According to the code of conduct, there is an issue that emerges therein. Referring to “oC8 those regulated by the BSB do not discriminate unlawfully and take appropriate steps to prevent discrimination occurring in their practices” Charlie seems to discriminate his clients by judging her from her past. The rule rC8 prohibits the barrister from behaving in a manner that could undermine his integrity and honesty in the eyes of the public. For this purpose, his reluctance while taking the case might raise a number of questions from other involved parties.[4] To prove this refute is the case of Medcalf v. Mardell, Weatherill and Another,[5] where the honorable court expressly pointed out the need for the solicitors to avoid instances where their conduct is said to take precedence over their client’s interests. Additionally, as noted from here above, the learned counsel is under no obligation to care about the other opponent’s client interests. Similarly, once the solicitor has taken up the matter and proceeded to act on behalf of the client, they are expected to act in a manner that protects the client from the court as well as the opponents.

The Obligation to Undertake Cases within the Scope of Practice

Charlie is therefore obligated under the prescriptions of the Cab Rank Rule to undertake any legal matter that falls within his scope of practice as he is competent to handle such a matter.[6] Such a rule was majorly elaborated within the rC29 and it connotes that a legal practitioner receiving instructions from a client based on the fact that you are said to be in a position to handle such based on your experience within the legal platform, then you should proceed and take up such instructions irrespective of whether you have an issue with the client’s identity, the nature of the case, contradiction with your personal beliefs as well as the mode of remuneration being offered therewith.[7]

Promoting Justice and Client Understanding

In other words, such a principle and rule of practice was adopted to ensure that the legal field fostered the issuance of services and justice for all citizens irrespective of their affiliation.[8]

Confidentiality and Duty of Care

A classic example with reference to the same is that of Australia whereby a defense lawyer cannot proceed to refuse to handle a matter on grounds that consider the case to be inappropriate, for if they do so, they may as well face a penalty that poses some limitation onto their practicing certificate.[9] Therefore, Charlie should tentatively proceed to handle the matter irrespective of his position and standing bearing in mind that he is fostering the administration of justice altogether while acting to the best of his abilities.

Establishing Trust and Confidentiality

After Charlie agrees to take Lucy’s case, he goes to visit her in the cells where they discuss various issues concerning the case. Evidently, his actions complies with the code of conduct, specifically the “oC13 where clients know what to expect and understand the advice they are given” This will thus involve the process of the learned counsel making sure that their client is up to speed with the proceedings as well as the progress of the matter before the court of law.[10] The information provided by the solicitor to their clients is critical to ensure that they understand the terms under which both teams will operate.

Putting Client's Needs First

The first step towards establishing a concrete form of relationship between counsel and his client lies with the trust that the two establish as they interact and deliberate on the issues that seem to exist within their case. Such is seen in the case when Lucy opens up to Charlie about her misconduct but still expects him to act professionally. While being guided by the provisions of the Solicitors Code of Conduct, legal practitioners are expected to exercise the duty of care towards their clients. One of the SRA stipulation, “O(4.1) demands the solicitor to keep the affairs of clients confidential unless disclosure is required or permitted by law or the client consents” For this purpose, Charlie should represent his clients while keeping confidential the revelation he received.[11]

Conclusion

The case scenario offered a chance to identify different ethical and professional issues and how they tie to the code of conduct. However, all the issues discussed points out that Charlie as an officer of the court who should strive to ensure that his client Lucy is well catered for and that justice is administered. He should put his interests aside and work to meet his client’s needs. For instance, he should consider fighting for Lucy’s wish to plead guilty and his prime role is to argue beyond reasonable doubt that Lucy might have been innocent despite her tainted past. At the end of the day, Charlie would have met his professional goals and fulfilled his client’s wishes to which might be labeled as a successful case.

Works Cited

Bar Standard Board. "Cab Rank Rule Paper."22 January 2013. Bar Standard Board.

Bar Standards Board. The Bar Standards Board Handbook. 2018.

Hogan, Claire, Tetyana Nesterchuk and Matthew Smith. Values and Functions of a Referral Advocate. 2016.

Legal Service Act. 2007.

Medcalf v Mardell, Weatherill and Another. House of Lords. 27 June 2002.

Solicitors Regulation Authority. SRA Handbook. 2011.

The Law Society. Conflict of Interests in Criminal Cases. 13 January 2016.

[1] Bar Standards Board. The Bar Standards Board Handbook. 2018.

[2] ibid.

[3] The Law Society. Conflict of Interests in Criminal Cases. 13 January 2016.

[4] Bar Standards Board. The Bar Standards Board Handbook. 2018.

[5] Medcalf v Mardell, Weatherill and Another. House of Lords. 27 June 2002.

[6] Bar Standard Board. "Cab Rank Rule Paper."22 January 2013. Bar Standard Board.

[7] Bar Standards Board. The Bar Standards Board Handbook. 2018.

[8] Legal Service Act. 2007.

[9] Hogan, Claire, Tetyana Nesterchuk and Matthew Smith. Values and Functions of a Referral Advocate. 2016.

[10] Bar Standards Board. The Bar Standards Board Handbook. 2018.

[11] Solicitors Regulation Authority. SRA Handbook. 2011.

December 12, 2023
Category:

Law Profession

Number of pages

5

Number of words

1368

Downloads:

46

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