In addition to their duties to clients, solicitors have other obligations under the law. As officers of the Court, solicitors must not only obey the law, they also have to ensure the efficient and proper administration of justice.
Legal practice in the ACT is governed by the Legal Profession Act, Regulation, and Rules.
What are the other duties?
In all their dealings with a court, a solicitor must uphold the principles under which they are governed. Whilst observing their duties to the client, solicitors must:
- not mislead the Court
- act with competence, honesty and courtesy towards other solicitors, parties and witnesses
- be independent (free from personal bias)
- be frank in their responses and disclosures to the Court
- be diligent in their observance of undertakings given to the Court or their opponents.
Some common examples include:
- not influencing witnesses
- not providing bail for a client
- not being a witness in a client’s court case
- withdrawing from representing a client when the client deliberately misleads the Court.
What happens when the duties conflict?
Sometimes situations arise when acting in the client’s best interests interferes with a solicitor’s duties to the administration of justice. The law provides that solicitors give precedence to their duties to the client as much as possible. Yet sometimes their duties to the administration of justice cannot be ignored.