KNOW THE PRACTICE OF LAW




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It is trite that no man is an island, even as a person who has been trained, versed and honed his skill in whatever trade, cannot boastfully say he has a mastery of every bits of the trade. Relating this, to the trade of the legal profession, which by all ramifications is over flooded with plethoras of substantive laws and procedures. And a striking characteristics of law is its susceptibility to change, because as a rule, *"man is not made for law, but law for man."* It is to this end, that  lawyers (whether practising or not), judges must upgrade their arsenals. As a legal practitioner, it is our duty to represent our client diligently and with all sense of modesty, and this responsibility can only be fulfilled when he equips or arm himself with the knowledge of the law. However, even as someone who has the knowledge, where to find and apply the law, he cannot fulfill this herculean task 110%, and that's why Lord Denning *"God forbid that a lawyer knows all the law."* It is to this effect that it is expedient for law students, legal practitioners to seek refuge in senior colleagues who are armed with experience. As law students, who will metamorphose into lawyers or judges, we must as a matter of fact *read and keep learning* and that's why we are being referred to as being *learned*, for this is the only way to remain relevant in the trade we chose to ply. This writeup is aimed at familiarizing us with our ever growing and dynamic laws.

 Foremostly, parties to a suit, whether as claimant or defendant must be properly addressed, no matter how notoriety of the party's name. In our legal system, for a court to have jurisdiction, the proper parties must be before it, and default by the counsel to ensure this may deprive the court of jurisdiction, which is the threshold of litigation, for without it, the judge and litigants labour in vain. Parties to a suit is always reflected in the name of the parties before a court. In a suit, where Ecobank was sued, the defendant's counsel made an application for the suit to be struck out for lack of jurisdiction because the party was not properly sued. The judge stated succinctly that no matter how notorious the name of the  defendant, it must be properly addressed, as noted by the learned judge, *Ecobank ltd* is different from *Ecobank PLC*. As a learning student we must take cognizance of the parties before the court, because no matter how good or bad the case more might be, it can be won or lost on the ground of technicality.

 Furthermore, _No mistake under the sun is beyond amendment._ As humans we are prone to making mistakes, and lawyers also being human they are, make mistakes, even judges( *erred in law* is the  appropriate word, for they are deemed to know the law). Hence, lawyers mostly, make application for amendments or regularization relating to statements of claim, defence etc. in order to amend such mistakes and can do so at any stage. As held by the learned Justice, Niki Tobi in a decided case *that no mistake under the sun is beyond amendment*.However, *the only statement or document a lawyer cannot, or not subject to amendment is one made under oaths*. The only rectification is for another to be drafted. This law is backed by the various Oath law. For instance, where there is an error or mistake in a document  made under oaths, for instance an affidavit, it can only be remedied by draft of a new one showing the corrections.

 In addition, inadequacy of a counsel is a breach of duty which the opposing counsel may seek compensation for. As ministers in the temple of justice, it is our duty to facilitate the speedy dispensation of justice. Any act or conduct contravening this may attract a fine after being prayed for by the opposing counsel. In a matter, where the court ordered a counsel to give notice to the other counsel which under the law of Lagos must be given within 7 days, the counsel refused owing to his negligence, upon prayers for *cost* by the opposing counsel, the learned judge stated clearly that; *a failure on the part of a counsel to advance the progress of his suit warrants a penalty upon request by the other counsel* and was subsequently slapped with a fine of #10000 to be paid before the next hearing.

Lastly, a lawyer's brief must always be his companion. This is not a law, but it is a law that will prevent a lawyer from looking *stupid* in the court room. Imagine yourself, standing before a judge, and being asked questions pertaining your brief, and making reference to a particular document which unfortunately, you didn't take to the courtroom, that alone is enough to mar your case for that day. It is advisable that as a counsel whether he is the original, substitute should go to the court with the documents in it's entirety no matter the volume.

In sum, as law students, we must endeavor to keep ourselves updated as to the development in  our laws.



Taiwo Balogun is a staff writer of LEGAL KEKENKE

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