Summary of Rondel v Worsley case

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Rondel v Worsley [1967] 1 Q.B. 443

Principle: [The role of the barrister]

Summary of Facts/ Ratio Decidendi: As an advocate [the barrister] is a minister of justice equally with the judge. He has a monopoly of audience in the higher courts. No one save he can address the judge, unless it be a litigant in person. This carries with it a corresponding responsibility. A barrister cannot pick or choose his clients. He is bound to accept a brief for any man who comes before the courts. No matter how great a rascal the man may be. No matter how given to complaining. No matter how undeserving or unpopular his cause. The barrister must defend him to the end. Provided only that he is paid a proper fee, or in the case of a dock brief, a nominal fee. He must accept the brief and do all he honorably can on behalf of his client.

I say “all he honorably can” because his duty is not only to his client. He has a duty to the court which is paramount. It is a mistake to suppose that he is the mouthpiece of his client to say what he wants: or his tool to do what he directs. He is none of these things. He owes allegiance to a higher cause. It is the cause of truth and justice. He must not consciously mis-state the facts. He must not knowingly conceal the truth. He must not unjustly make a charge of fraud, that is, without evidence to support it. He must produce all the relevant authorities, even those that are against him. He must see that his client discloses, if ordered, the relevant documents, even those that are fatal to his case. He must disregard the most specific instructions of his client, if they conflict with his duty to the court.

See also  Summary of Thomas Gabriel & Sons v Churchill & Sim case

Judgment: Lord Denning MR at (p501),

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