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Lec 1 - Court Conduct

Lec 1 - Court Conduct

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03/18/2014

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PROFESSIONAL RESPONSIBILITY (1) \u2013
References:
1. COURT CONDUCT AND ETIQUETTE BY MR CHRISTOPHER LAU (SENIOR COUNSEL) WEDNESDAY, 12
JULY 2006
1. Arrive early
-
avoid scolding
-
time to choose your place
-
ability to meet and discuss with counsel
2. Bring the tools of your trade
-
ROC/Evidence Act
-
calculator, marker pens, pads, files
3. Prepare for hearing
-
must be master of your brief
-
chronology
-
authorities for reliefs claimed
4. Clothing
-
view from the Bench
-
button up
5. Attitude to Court
-
deference without servility
-
stand up when speaking or when spoken to
-
no private conversations
-
don\u2019t speak to other counsel except through the Court
-
Rule 15 1978 malaysian legal profession (practice and etiquette) rules \u2013 respect to court
-
See also rules 54 and 55(a) sg rules \u2013
o
54 - to cnduct each case in manner most advtageous to client so long as does not conlfic tiwth interests of ujustice,
public interest and professional ethics
o
55 \u2013 act with due courtesy to court before which he is appearing
6. Assist the Court
-
refer to court index number
-
prepare bundle of affidavits
-
know Exhibit and Agreed Bundle references
-
primary duty is to Court
7. Court Style
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Opening Statement
-
frame questions clearly
-
don\u2019t examine witnesses on effects of documents
-
don\u2019t be personal with other counsel
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don\u2019t prompt witnesses
-
do not, as a general rule, interrupt counsel when counsel on his feet
-
don\u2019t disturb other counsel
-
watch the judge\u2019s pen
-
don\u2019t object unnecessarily
8. Importance of Style
-
style matters
-
style helps to win
-
don\u2019t be too costs conscious
-
don\u2019t aim to win at all cost
-
your reputation is worth more than one case
9. in relation to opponent
-
rule 47 sg rules \u2013 treat proff colleagues with coutesy and fairness
-
otherwise grds for complaint to law soc
-
includes
o
introd urself to judge then opponent (if opening proceedings)
o
when introd by opponent, stand up and bow to court
o
refer to opponent as my learned friend
o
don\u2019t interrupt
o
don\u2019t interrupt submission unless grossly misleading assertion of fact or misguided line of argument
10. In relation to witnesses
-
rule 61 of sg rules and rule 33 of 1978 rules
o
61 \u2013 in all cases not to amek statements or ask qn scandalous or intended to insult or calculated ony to vilify or
annoy or otherwise abuse fn of advocate and sol; and to ex judgement as to substance and form of qn put
o
33 \u2013 advocate and sol to treat adverse witnesses with fairness and due consideration and not minister to
malevolence or prej of client in conduct of case
o

36 (1978 rules) \u2013 advocate to prevent client fr wrongful conduct towards courts etc; he shall use his best efforts to
prevent client fr doing things which he himself ought not do and where client persists in wrongdoing, h is to
terminate the rr.

-

Advocate resp for behaviour of client in court
11. Some Lawyers who annoyed judges
- ReKuma raendran [1975] 2 MLJ 45

Facts:

The advocate and solicitor in this case was defending an accused person charged with an offence under the
Corrosive and Explosive Substances and Offensive Weapons Ordinance, 1958. The record of the proceedings
before the President of the Sessions Court showed that the advocate was "shouting and behaving in a manner
which is most unexpected". The advocate made an application for the case to be heard before another President.
The advocate said that if this application was not granted he would apply to be discharged from further acting for
the accused The President then allowed the application for the discharge of the advocate The advocate then made
the following remarks in court:
"If you say this (referring to the President`s ruling), outside the court, I will take on (sic) you certainly"
The President of the Sessions Court then ruled that the advocate had committed contempt of court and committed
the advocate to two days imprisonment On exercise of criminal revision.

Holdings:
Held: (1) there is no doubt that the words uttered by the advocate constituted insulting and contumacious

behaviour in outrageous and provocative language tantamount to a deliberate challenge to the authority of the
learned President and was clearly a gross contempt in the face of the court;
(2).the power given to Sessions and Magistrate`s Courts to take cognisance of any contempt of court and award
punishment therefor in para 26 of the 3rd Sch to the Subordinate Courts Act 1948 is to be exercised in such
extent and in such manner as may be prescribed by Rules of Court. There are rules of court in this context which
statutorily embodies and enacts the principles of showing cause;
(3).the learned President, perhaps understandably acting in the heat of the moment immediately committed the
advocate to imprisonment for two days, without distinctly stating the specific offences charged against the
advocate and without giving him an opportunity of answering the charge. This was in breach of the rules of
natural justice and in utter disregard of Order XXXVIII r 1 of the Subordinate Courts Rule, 1950, or at least the
principle underlining it The order of committal was therefore unsustainable in law and invalid.

Per Abdoolcader J: "it is the duty of counsel appearing before them (Presidents and Magistrates) toact
fearlessly and with all the force and vigour at their disposal in the interest of the cause they represent but
wholly within the bounds of propriety and courtesy in the discharge of their duties as officers of the court
Counsel appearing before these courts must equally remember that in the discharge of their duties they must
judiciously use the right and privilege of appearing as such in these courts and not abuse it, and thatthei r
conduct must at all times accord with that decorum and dignity"
- Hilborne v Law Society of Singapore [1978] 1 WLR 841
- Public Prosecutor v Seeralan [1985] 2 MLJ 30
Facts:

In this case the Magistrate at Seremban was holding an inquest. The respondent Mr Seeralan, a member of the
Bar was in court holding a watching brief. In the course of the proceedings the respondent became emotional and
made several allegations of bias against the Magistrate. The Magistrate ordered the respondent to leave the court
but the respondent refused to comply. He continued to make allegations of bias against the Bench saying the
Bench was unfair and prejudiced. The Magistrate eventually, after an adjournment, invoked para 26 of the Third
Schedule of the Subordinate Courts Act, 1948, took cognizance of the contempt committed by the respondent
and required him to show cause why he should not be punished. The respondent denied the charge and claimed to
the tried before another Magistrate. The Magistrate then fined him $150 or in default one week`s imprisonment.
The next day the High Court exercising its powers of revision reversed and set aside the Magistrate`s Order. The
revisionary proceedings were held in the Chambers of the Judge in the presence of the Magistrate and Counsel
for the respondent. The Public Prosecutor subsequently referred three questions of law to the Supreme Court.
These were -
(1).Whether or not in law criminal contempt has been committed in the face of the court by the respondent by
accusing the presiding Magistrate in Port Dickson Magistarte`s Court Inquest No 47/1984 of being biased, unfair
and prejudiced and by refusing to leave the court when ordered to do so by the learned Magistrate.
(2).If the answer to question (1) is in the affirmative, then whether it is right in law for the learned magistrate in
the circumstances of this case to exercise his power of punishment for contempt of court summarily.
(3).If the answer to question (2) is in the affirmative, then whether it is right in law for the learned judge to set
aside the Order of the learned magistrate committing the respondent for contempt of court in chambers without
giving due notice or the right to be heard to the Public Prosecutor?

Holdings:
Held
(1) the record clearly revealed the uncompromising attitude of the respondent and his unabashed arrogance and
insolence towards the Magistrate. His continued accusations that the court was biased, unfair and prejudiced

clearly amounted to a contempt of court. Such conduct and behaviour were not just disorderly acts nor a mere
use of unbecoming language. They constituted a contempt of court of a serious kind, without any mitigating
factor;
(2).in this case the record clearly showed that the elements of contempt were fully set out and the respondent was
asked to show cause. There was therefore no failure of the court to give the respondent an opportunity to be
heard before he was punished;
(3).the learned Magistrate in this case had a choice of either proceeding under para 26 of the Third Schedule of
the Subordinate Courts Act, 1948 or of authorising a prosecution;
(4).the absence of a provision in the Subordinate Court Rules regarding the exercise of the power by the
Magistrate does not mean that the power cannot be exercised. The Magistrate can effectively exercise the power
so long as the contemnor is given an opportunity of being heard;
(5).in the circumstances the order of the learned Judge of the High Court should be quashed and the order of the
learned Magistrate restored.

- Ram Goswami v Public Prosecutor [1985] 1 MLJ 113
Facts:

The appellant, an advocate and solicitor was convicted for contempt in the face of the court by a district court
under s 8 of the Subordinate Courts Act and sentenced to a fine of $500.
The facts were briefly as follows. The appellant had agreed to represent two persons who were charged with an
offence under the Women`s Charter before a district court. The oral contract was for payment of a retainer by
each client which was to be paid before the trial commenced and a refresher for each day or part thereof after the
first day. The trial commenced on 3 March 1983. Only part of the agreed retainer had been paid by his clients
despite repeated promises. The appellant subsequently applied for a week`s adjournment or alternatively for a
discharge. The appellant informed the court that his clients had failed to give him instructions since the last
hearing and had failed to pay the agreed fees despite repeated promises to do so. The trial judge refused his
application and found him in contempt of court and asked him to show cause. The appellant reiterated his
grounds for applying for his discharge and apologised to the court.
The question before the present court was whether the appellant`s conduct or act could properly be regarded as a
contempt of court.

Holdings:
Held , allowing the appeal:
(1).The appellant`s conduct did not go so far beyond the limits of non-co-operation or refusal to comply with the
court`s direction or discourtesy as to harden into contempt of court.

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