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The case concerned a barrister’s immunity from claims for negligence. The House of Lords upheld the existence of the immunity. The decision in Rondel was reversed in Arthur JS Hall & Co v Simons [2002] 1 A.C. 615. Lord Reid’s comments concerning the role of counsel remain of relevance.

Lord Reid said (p227),

There is no doubt about the position and duties of a barrister or advocate appearing in court on behalf of a client. It has long been recognised that no counsel is entitled to refuse to act in a sphere in which he practises, and on being tendered a proper fee, for any person however unpopular or even offensive he or his opinions may be, and it is essential that that duty must continue: justice cannot be done and certainly cannot be seen to be done otherwise. If counsel is bound to act for such a person, no reasonable man could think the less of any counsel because of his association with such a client, but, if counsel could pick and choose, his reputation might suffer if he chose to act for such a client, and the client might have great difficulty in obtaining proper legal assistance.

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 withhold 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.

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