Understanding the responsibilities of a lawyer
Many people in our society are unaware of the role of lawyers, their duties toward their clients and their professional responsibilities. There is a code of conduct professionals are supposed to follow while dealing with their opponents, both in and out of court.
In today’s article we will highlight the duties of a lawyer in order to remove any misconceptions that people may have about them.
The Saudi regulations to practice law as a profession clearly stipulate that a lawyer must follow the principles of the Islamic Shariah while performing his duties. There are also other rules set by the state to maintain discipline and ensure transparency in judicial proceedings in the Kingdom.
A lawyer must refrain from practices that may violate the sanctity of the profession and should strictly adhere to the rules and regulations set by the government.
A lawyer must refrain from representing any illegal or unjust case and if this fact emerges during litigation they should abandon the case.
A lawyer should personally take care of all legal aspects of a case and avoid delegating responsibilities to somebody else beyond the knowledge of a client. However, this is allowed if it is clearly mentioned in the power of attorney issued by the notary public, which is the competent authority to issue such documents.
Moreover, if a client appoints two lawyers to represent him in one power of attorney, the lawyers are not entitled to authorize a third party on their own, unless it was explicitly stated in the power of attorney that one of them can act alone and delegate duties to others.
Lawyers are also expected to show respect toward defendants during court proceedings and must refrain from harming the reputation of a defendant in any way. They are not allowed to resort to delaying tactics or act in ways that might obstruct the course of justice.
During a defense, it is not permissible for a lawyer to touch on the personal matters of an opponent of his client. He must refrain from insulting or disrespecting defendants, whether in writing or verbally. However, there are exceptions depending on the nature of a case.
At the same time, a lawyer has the right to follow the path he deems best in defending his client.
But what if the case ends or the client decides to cancel the power of attorney? In the event of expiry of power of attorney, the attorney must return to his client the power of attorney and all original documents upon request. However, if he has not received his dues, he has the right to hold the papers until clearance.
A lawyer is not required to hand over papers submitted in a lawsuit to a client, including legal documents, memos and papers. This also covers documents received by the court. However, a lawyer must give a client copies of these documents at the request of the client and at their own expense.
• Dimah Talal Alsharif is a Saudi lawyer and legal consultant. Twitter: @dimah_alsharif