By Nonyerem Ibiam
Lawyers have to accept cases from their clients and represent them to the best of their abilities. However, some cases bring nothing but tears, sweat, and trouble for the lawyer, especially when taken to court. Learning to spot these harmful and problematic cases will help you build a successful legal career.
Successful lawyers do not take every case to court. They examine each case and explore other options. Apart from litigation in court, there are other means of settling disputes between parties.
The following are cases you should avoid taking to the court at all costs.
Statute Barred Cases
A case is statute barred when it is no longer legally enforceable owing to a prescribed period of limitation having lapsed. Our statutes are full of cases with time limits within which to file them.
Once the time for bringing such cases elapse, it is futile to file such a matter in court. Courts sometimes come down hard on lawyers who bring or file such frivolous cases in court.
Non-justiciable cases are barred and not capable of being decided by legal principles or by a court of law. The fundamental objectives and directive principles of state policy, contained in Chapter II of the 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, are non-justiciable. They are at best, guidelines to the federal and state governments of Nigeria to promote social order.
Even where your client is injured, if the matter is non-justiciable, the remedy does not lie in the courts.
Conflict of Interest Cases
Avoid cases that have the potential of creating a conflict of interest at all costs.
Generally, lawyers have a duty of confidentiality with their clients and must not do anything to betray that trust. Always decline a case or matter where your clients question your loyalty and interest.
Several factors can make your case a bad one. It is left for the lawyer to assess and determine the likelihood of success of each case.
Some of the factors that can make a case a bad one include:
- Where the facts of a case cannot prove the essential elements required to succeed in the matter.
- Cases where there are little or no remedies under the law.
- Cases where even if you succeed, you cannot reap the benefits of the judgment.
Matters that require Technical Expertise
Lawyers should avoid litigating cases where they have no experience or expertise. It is unprofessional for a lawyer to use someone’s case for experimentation.
When faced with a case that falls in an area of law where you lack expertise, it is better to refer the matter to another lawyer.
Some cases require specialized knowledge and skills. If you have neither the skills nor the resources to research the case, don’t take it.
Some cases do not just make economic sense. Lawsuits require a lot of resources and do not come cheap.
If neither your client nor you have the economic resources to pursue an expensive case, then reject it.
Legal practice is business and requires financial resources to run it. Accept cases that have the potential to sustain your law practice and keep you in business.
Some lawyers have found themselves paying filing fees, service fees, and other court expenses.
Avoid cases where the client is unlikely to pay your legal fees or cannot sponsor the matter to the end.
Although legal practice is a business, a lawyer should know how to handle the business and not accept every case because of money.
A good reputation is a valued asset in legal practice. Your success, therefore, depends on the type of cases you bring to the court.
A lawyer has a sacred duty to tell his clients about the chances of their matter in court.
Never allow your client or financial gain to make you file an action that you know shouldn’t be in court in the first place.
Nonyerem is a lawyer, legal content writer, and founder of LawTruly -(firstname.lastname@example.org)