#1 Rather than pay you this amount, I would give it to the Judge and be guaranteed of Judgment
It was at the peak of the DSS Tsunamic attack on the judiciary. Our client got a winding up proceeding against his company. Briefly, his company guaranteed a loan on behalf of his friend and the friend defaulted. We reviewed the processes and advised our client that the best procedure would be to put in his papers and the necessary objections and then proceed to have some settlement talks with the creditor.
Our client was very happy about this. Shortly after he left and as is the usual practice of the firm, we forwarded our bill of charges. Guess what? Our client received the bill of charges and became livid. He called and after expressing his displeasure over the bill which he claimed was exorbitant he blotted “I saw how much Nigerian Judges are being accused of. Paltry sums.” Rather than pay you this amount, I would give it to the judge and be guaranteed of judgment in my favaour” Client was adamant.
Two days later, we got a letter debriefing us!!
#2 I do not need a lawyer that knows the law, I need a lawyer that knows the judge
There was a meeting and in that meeting, a certain chief who is notorious for filing so many actions in court and who has seemingly become conversant with the simple procedures of court was trying to advise us on how important it is to be “street wise”. He was so sure it is not about the knowledge of the law but about who you know. He told us categorically that most litigants go to big shots to pay heavily because that payment includes having a way with mobilizing judges to do the needful. He simply told us, I would rather get a lawyer who knows the judge than the one who knows the law.
We never saw him again!!
#3 Barrister, make sure the application is granted. If you don’t know how it is done, please ask those who know
His land was encroached on and the people who live nearby informed him. Upon getting to the land, he realized that it was actually a soldier that encroached on his land. He became handicapped. The senior officer had flooded the land with soldiers who are ready to “destroy” any obstacle to the progress of their “Oga”’s mansion. We advised our client that the best is to approach the court and seek injunction. First he asked, how much is the injunction sold for? We explained what injunction means with the genuine believe that client thought injunction is some kind of object. There and then, client shocked us. He not only knows what an injunction is, he advised us that there are means of getting it. In his words “Barrister, make sure the application is granted. If you don’t know how it is done, please ask those who know”. We lost him when we informed him that the only assurance we have is to ensure we prepare an application “dripping with excellence” and ensure that same is heard in record time and canvass our argument with impeccable oratory skills.
He debrief us and went in search of “people who know”!!
#4 Oga lawyer, na naija we dey. Please do the needful.
How can you tell me we need to follow the cause of justice? I have said to you my brother has to come out of that prison and his international passport returned to him so he can leave this country. Both the judge and the prosecutor have their price. Please get busy with the process of having these things done within the time specified to you. “Oga lawyer, na naija we dey, na naija be this. Please do the needful. All these bail condition and restrictions can be sorted out. That is why we called you in the first place.
That was the argument of a man whose brother was involved in some international drug deal. He lied about the brother’s involvement and we were confronted in court with all sorts of surprises. At the end, the judge rightly granted bail on conditions that were not too liberal. His brother’s international passport was to be deposited with the court. Out of the court, we advised that since they are not able to meet the bail condition, the option left is to apply for same to be varied. When this is done, we would pursue the matter and ensure that the cause of justice is served.
Again we were debriefed!!
#5 Barrister, I have adopted you as my son, don’t worry about your fees.
She is a supplier. Money was transferred into her account and for some reasons, she wanted to use the money to turn around some more profitable business and make her supply. The worst happened. Millions went down the drain. She has a law suit against her for specific performance. We are trying our best to ensure that the other party see reasons and give more time. We have been carried away by her pathetic stories and her sweet mouth. The bill of charges was accepted without problem but even the first installment to enable us work was not paid. So we continued to work, file processes, speak endlessly with the other party, call for meetings after meetings. Then, we realized there has not been payment.
Madam, you have to make some payment. This matter is not handled pro bono and we do not run a charity organization here. We have given concession and are further allowing you to pay by installment. You cannot get it like this elsewhere.
“Barrister, I have adopted you as my son, don’t worry about your fees.” If only we met when this incident had not happened. But don’t worry. You will enjoy me. I know this would be resolved soon and I would be back on my feet. For all the things you have done for me, I will surely reward you.
With our efforts, the matter was resolved amicably with adequate time given to our client to perform on the contract. The place where money was tied was eventually untied and money came out. Our client reneged.
We are in court trying to recover our legal fee!!
#8 Lawyer, you need not worry about your fees, I have resolved to compensate you with something more valuable than money.
This time around we were smarter. A client was going to play us once more. We insisted on payment before we take steps. He said he had land, he had securities, he had links in high places. We said we only need our professional fees. We are not interested in anything of value outside our professional fees.
We advised that there may be others who are interested. He left, after a few days, we were advised by account that payment has been made. We are presently doing our best to ensure that we give value for the fees paid.
#7 You are an incompetent lawyer. This appeal was determined within 6 months by the Court of Appeal. I was told appeals last as long as 6 years.
He was owing the bank several millions of Naira. The bank sued to recover the money or in the alternative to forfeit the property used as security for the loan. The bank also filed motion for summary judgment. We filed papers and opposed the motion for summary judgment on several grounds. For some strange reasons, even with our defence and the grounds of our opposition, the trial court agreed with the other party and granted summary judgment. We appealed.
We were diligent in our appeal. We compiled records within time. We ensured our brief was in within time and the lawyer to the bank was also willing to fast tract the wheel of justice. Within the same year, we had a date for hearing of the appeal. It was the special panel set up by the Court of Appeal to sit at various regions to reduce backlog. We were glad because we were sure our appeal would succeed. Strangely too, the special panel who are indeed special, upheld the trial court’s judgment. We were at a loss as to why. We argued that summary judgment cannot be granted on unliquidated money demand. We had auditor’s report challenging the charges against our client. We had averments to show that there was a mix up in the calculation of the amount due. We had evidence of exorbitant charges. We were battling with the issues and preparing to go to the Supreme Court.
Our client stormed our office one afternoon and became violent. His reason? You are an “incompetent lawyer”. This appeal was determined within 6 months by the Court of Appeal. I was told appeals last as long as 6 years.”
We are not giving up. Whether we win or lose a case, we must ensure that justice is not delayed for whoever deserves it!!
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