Last week I was briefed by another law firm to appear as counsel in an injunction application. The other side had obtained an ex parte injunction. I was asked to argue the inter partes hearing which came on yesterday.
I had a look at the cause papers and was of the view that the other side’s counsel had failed to comply with court rules for ex parte application. I asked my instructing solicitors to give a notice in writing to the court and to the other solicitor informing them of our intended objection, the applicable rules and to annex photocopies of the case law that we would be relying on so that the other solicitor would be prepared to properly argue the matter with us on the date of hearing.
I make this point because there are a few lawyers who practise only the art of subterfuge. I know a particular lawyer in town who deliberately makes his affidavits as vague as possible so that he can try to catch his opponent by surprise on the date of hearing. He has probably been successful with this type of approach. In my view, this is a sad reflection of his lack of belief in his own ability as a counsel.
I would like to take this opportunity to reproduce parts of a speech made by YAA Tan Sri Steve Shim former Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak at the opening of the legal year 2006:
"Clearly, a lawyer owes a paramount duty to the court as well as to his client. That duty has been echoed constantly within the walls of the Judiciary. It has withstood the rigors of time. Underpinning that duty lies a fundamental element, that is, honesty. And this has, I think, been encapsulated in that inspirational advice given by Lord Denning which I cited at last year’s Opening. In my view, it is significant enough to bear repetition to-day because it reflects the very character and purpose of the legal profession in our society. Lord Denning said in his inimitable style:-
“If there is one thing more important than any other in a lawyer, it is that he must be honest. He must be honest with his client. He must be honest with his opponent. He must be honest with the court. Above all, he must be honest with himself.”
That advice, I believe, deserves the status of immutability. It should be cast in tablets of stone."
There are a number of very bright young lawyers I know. I hope that they will take Tan Sri Steve's and Lord Denning's advice to heart and appreciate that, though winning cases are important, the victory should not be at any cost including the cost of their self respect.