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Corruption and Ethical Challenges to Legal Professionals

Corruption and Ethical Challenges to Legal Professionals (Program)

Oluyemisi Bamgbose, University of Ibadan (Nigeria); Saray Run, Legal Aid of Cambodia (Cambodia); and Nigel Duncan, The City Law School (UK) (Moderator)

Corruption and Ethical Challenges to Legal Professionals

Various aspects of corruption and ethical challenges will be addressed from three different perspectives of the legal profession located in different parts of the world - Nigeria, Cambodia and the UK.


Oluyemisi Bamgbose and Folake Tafita: The Nigerian Legal Profession, Then, Now and Future: The Changing Nature and Character of a Profession

The Nigerian legal profession has a proud legacy of colonial rule metamorphosed over the years, developing, affecting and shaping the legal environment in Nigeria. In those years of glorious metamorphosing, the young vibrant lawyer was a pride to his community and an envy of contemporaries in his intermediate environment, and his profession was highly rated by society and coveted by every aspiring and career seeking youth. Recently however, amidst many factors such as the nation’s economic downturn, corrupt leadership and misuse and abuse of information and cyber technology, the legal profession, like other professions, is experiencing negative developments in the practice of the profession. Practice is no longer as lucrative or prestigious.

In a bid to wade through these myriad challenges, some lawyers are now adopting untoward strategies for survival and societal relevance, and some legal professionals are desecrating the revered legacy and violating the ethics of the profession. This development has raised a lot concern for the body of professionals on the teaching, practice and future of law in Nigeria. This paper discusses some ethical concerns and issues affecting the legal profession in Nigeria, exposing the effects and implication of these for the future of legal education and legal practice in Nigeria. It further examines the efforts academia towards restoring the prestige of legal education and practice in Nigeria.

Saray Run: Legal Profession and Corruption in Cambodian Judicial System

In this paper, I am going to discuss about the legal profession and corruption in Cambodian judicial system. To address the legal profession for judges and prosecutors, I focus on principles of judicial independence, impartiality, integrity, and diligence. I will also address corruption in Cambodia. However, I do not discuss about the legal profession for lawyers in this paper. A legal profession refers to a code of conduct for judges, prosecutors and other legal practitioners. However, in Cambodia, the code of conduct for judges and prosecutors is governed by Law on Organization and Functioning of Judges and Prosecutors, while the legal profession for lawyers is governed by Bar Law and Code of Lawyer’s Ethics and Morality. Cambodia was under civil war for about 30 years. Between 1975 and 1979, Khmer Rouge killed approximately 1.4 million people. All judicial institutions and legal documents were also destroyed and abolished. Khmer Rouge Regime was overthrown by Vietnam in 1979. A new regime of State of Cambodia was ruled until 1992. Paris agreement gave a power to the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTACT) to organize national election in Cambodia. A pluralism regime based on monarchy has been formed in 1993.

National Assembly has passed many new laws in response to the political and economic situations. However, judicial laws on legal profession and ethics of judges and prosecutors have never been passed because the government did not have good will. With the absence of judicial laws on legal profession, the judges and prosecutors commit corruptions in Cambodian judicial system and the courts receive a lot criticism from society. The government has passed judicial laws, but lack of independence, impartiality, integrity, confidentiality, and diligence remain concerns . For example, judges and prosecutors in national and sub-national levels are members of party and run political campaigns. With regard to impartiality, judges abdicate cases based on improper influence from government or political party. The corruption in Cambodian judicial system still remains the issue. It is a complex social, political and economic phenomenon that affects a whole society and undermines democratic institutions, slows economic development and contributes to governmental instability. An anti-corruption law is applied unequally and weakly. In conclusion, legal profession and legal ethics are principles for judges and prosecutors performing their functions without fear or favor or outside influences. In absence of law on legal profession and legal ethics, judges and prosecutors will arbitrarily do inappropriate things. Judges and prosecutors who violate the law on legal profession and legal ethics must be sanctioned. If they receive bribe, the anti-corruption law must be applied effectively.

Nigel Duncan: Facing the Challenge of Corruption: Educating for Experience in the Cognitive and Affective Domains

This session will present some of the findings arising from the preparation of a book proposing how new lawyers might best be assisted to face the challenge of corrupt cultures and environments. It will consider how a variety of different learning approaches might assist.

The OECD, the IBA and the UNODC have developed an Anti-Corruption Academic Initiative (ACAD) that provides freely-available course design proposals and materials. This valuable initiative is largely content-driven and this session will explore how to go beyond the cognitive domain on which it focuses. It will present heuristic devices to deepen student understanding of the issues involved and to engage with the affective domain to help students develop the empathy, judgment and moral courage required for effective practice in a corrupt environment.

The session will be supported by a Powerpoint presentation, and will develop into an interactive workshop in which participants explore priorities in the learning approaches adopted, and offer perspectives from their experience in different jurisdictions. Depending on the number of participants this will either be done as group work or open discussion.

View other papers and programs within this theme.