In whose best interests?

I was surprised to read, in Rosemary Sanwell-Smith's article "Advocating a working relationship" (The Lawyer, 23 June) that: "The best interests of the client are paramount."

The first duties of any advocate are to the administration of justice and the court. Even though a barrister is not an officer of the court, he or she is bound by an overriding duty not to mislead it. It follows that the best interests of the client (which may well be served by misleading the court) cannot be paramount.

It is vital that, in the drive to become more consumer-oriented, advocates do not lose sight of their all-important duties to justice.

Barbara Watts

Director, Centre for Legal Studies