IT is widely believed that where a lawyer and opposing counsel know each other, there is a better chance to sort matters under dispute in a less acrimonious, and thus expensive, manner. I fully agree with this.
Where you know and respect your counterpart, tensions can be mitigated in contested litigation or, in say, a protracted bitter negotiation.
This is however not always the case; many lawyers feel that they owe no respect, companionship, trust or loyalty to their counterpart because of personal differences, historical disputes, fierce competition in the market place or a mere dislike for another human being.
And these scenarios often trigger disciplinary action by the district Law Society, in charge of repressing unfriendly attitudes between fellow members.
As an example, the Malaga Law Society found it to be an impropriety for the newly appointed lawyers to criticise the job done by their predecessors when saying: “We are surprised that the previous lawyers failed to resolve such trivial differences, and rather poisoned the relationship between their respective clients”.
More obvious was a ruling by the Malaga Law Society reprimanding a lawyer who maintained, in Court, that the opposing counsel’s actions consisted in “…lying barefacedly… instructing witnesses to deliberately prevaricate… submitting a fundamentally malicious, reckless and fraudulent claim that not only opportunistically omits prejudicial documentation but also, exaggerates facts and twists the reality of things…sending missives where the lawyer pressurised the other party to accept an agreement, not short of blackmail…”
On the contrary, the same Law Society found that stating ‘from the boring reading of the tedious appeal writ that the opposing party has submitted, at least in respect to the intellectual production- which is scarce, from what we can see…’ was not disrespectful.
And the same outcome was reached where a lawyer, on talking about the merits of prior counsel, said: “…his delicate health…the physical conditions at the time were far from ideal, whether for age limitations or the rather more perceptible issue of arriving from a function where alcohol was in abundance…”