By Michel Nkurunziza.
Chief Justice Prof. Sam Rugege has warned lawyers against corruption following some cases of those who were caught-red handed violating such legal ethics.
He was speaking during the training on legal ethics in Rwanda gathering lawyers and students from schools of law from 12 African countries.
The four-day training program that started on Monday is focusing such areas as regulation of the legal profession, lawyer-client relations, proper screening and engagement of clients, conflicts of interest, confidentiality and disclosure, anti-corruption, corporate social responsibility and pro bono legal assistance all which illustrate how the ethical rules are implemented in commercial law practice.
“Talking about legal ethics, it is important to the client in order to protect their interest, to the legal profession in order to protect its image and public confidence in the profession and also confidence in the legal system and rule of law. It is also important to the economy and the wellbeing of the nation and its people,” he said.
He reiterated that the lawyer must command the trust and confidence of client and to do that, he stressed they must be honest, be persons of high integrity, competent and dependable.
Prof. Rugege warned against the lawyers against corruption.
“They should condemn corruption. This undermines administration of justice, it takes someone’s rights and undermines the economy of the country,” adding that prosecutors, investigators, advocates, clients and judges should jointly fight against corruption.
“Without trust from the public, being perceived as conmen because of lawyers who disregard professional ethics and standards, then people may have no hope of getting justice through law as they get wrong advice,” he noted.
The Chief Justice cited an example of lawyers who give wrong advice and collude with their clients to cheat or evade taxes and make unjustified claim, default the banks etc .
This, he emphasized that it undermines the economy and wellbeing of citizens in general.
He urged advocated to adequately prepare the cases while serving the clients.
“We observe dishonest lawyers who do what is not in the interest of clients. There are some lawyers who have secret meeting with colleagues on the other side to persuade him or her to weaken his or her client case so that they get gifts from one of the litigants. It violates integrity, honesty, confidentiality and independence and that is a betrayal of the client and violation of professional ethics,” he warned.
More than 72 best students and lawyers are being trained on legal ethics in Kigali after 250 applicants.
Prof.Paolo Galizzi, the clinical Professor of law in Fordham Law School in New York said legal ethics should be taught starting with students who are still at schools of law.
Nadine Ishimwe, the student from INES Ruhengeri in school of law said: “we need more skills that are practical than in theories in our classes. This will help us to perform well with legal ethics once we reach labour market. We need to get updated on laws that are enacted every day even when we are still at school.”