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Rondel v Worsely [1967] 3 WLR 1666 House of Lords

The Claimant was charged and convicted of GBH. The defendant was the barrister who represented him at trial. The Claimant brought a negligence action against him claiming that he had not asked all the questions he had asked him to when cross examining witnesses and had not put all the evidence before the court. The High Court struck out the claim as disclosing no cause of action because barristers can not be sued by their client for negligence or lack of skill in presenting their case in court. The Claimant appealed and the Court of Appeal dismissed the appeal. The Appellant appealed to the House of Lords.

Held:

Barristers are immune from negligence suits for their conduct of a case in court.


Lord Reid gave the following reasons:

"Every counsel has a duty to his client fearlessly to raise every issue, advance every argument, and ask every question, however distasteful, which he thinks will help his client's case. But, as an officer of the Court concerned in the administration of justice, he has an overriding duty to the Court, to the standards of his profession, and to the public, which may and often does lead to a conflict with his client's wishes or with what the client thinks are his personal interests. Counsel must not mislead the Court, he must not lend himself to casting aspersions on the other party or witnesses for which there is no sufficient basis in the information in his possession, he must not with-hold authorities or documents which may tell against his clients but which the law or the standards of his profession require him to produce. And by so acting he may well incur the displeasure or worse of his client so that if the case is lost, his client would or might seek legal redress if that were open to him."


NB this position of the law has since been overruled.
 
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