How To Sue An Unprofessional or Unethical Lawyer in India

How To Sue An Unprofessional or Unethical Lawyer in India

How To Sue An Unprofessional or Unethical Lawyer in India

Like all professions, the legal profession is also sprinkled with a few unethical and unprofessional lawyers. To top it off, they think that the mere fact that they are lawyers, gives them immunity from the law. This article deals with how to go about suing your lawyer and how to tackle legal malpractice.

Can a client sue their lawyer in India?

Yes. A client can sue their lawyer in India, if they believe that the lawyer is guilty of professional misconduct or is in contravention of professional ethics.

On what grounds can the client sue the lawyer?

–Coming soon–

I suspect that my lawyer has colluded with the opposite party in my legal matter, what action can I take against him?

An advocate is duty bound to the client, not to disclose the communications between himself and his client to any third party, without the express consent of the client. The advocate also has a duty  to make a full and frank prior disclosure to the client, regarding the advocates interest or stake in any matter for which the client wants to engage him. An advocate should not misuse or take advantage of the confidence reposed in him by his client.

Breach of any of the above standards makes a lawyer liable for disciplinary action. A formal complaint can be made to the State Bar Council or Bar Council of India.

What laws cover legal malpractice and breach of professional ethics of lawyers in India?

Currently, The Advocates Act 1961 specifically deals with professional misconduct by legal practitioners in India and deals with the procedure and punishment.

What amounts to breach of Professional Ethics or Professional Misconduct?

Rules on the professional standards that an advocate needs to maintain are mentioned in Chapter II, Part VI of the Bar Council of India Rules. These rules have been placed there under section 49(1)(c) of the Advocates Act, 1961.

The whole list of professional standards for advocates in India can be seen at this link: http://www.barcouncilofindia.org/about/professional-standards/rules-on-professional-standards/

RULES ON AN ADVOCATE’S DUTY TOWARDS THE COURT

  • Act in a dignified manner
  • Respect the court
  • Not communicate in private
  • Refuse to act in an illegal manner towards the opposition
  • Refuse to represent clients who insist on unfair means
  • Appear in proper dress code
  • Refuse to appear in front of relations
  • Not to wear bands or gowns in public places
  • Not represent establishments of which he is a member
  • Not appear in matters of pecuniary interest
  • Not stand as surety for client

RULES ON AN ADVOCATE’S DUTY TOWARDS THE CLIENT

  • Bound to accept briefs
  • Not withdraw from service
  • Not appear in matters where he himself is a witness
  • Full and frank disclosure to client
  • Uphold interest of the client
  • Not suppress material or evidence
  • Not disclose the communications between client and himself
  • An advocate should not be a party to stir up or instigate litigation.
  • An advocate should not act on the instructions of any person other than his client or the client’s authorised agent.
  • Not charge depending on success of matters
  • Not receive interest in actionable claim
  • Not bid or purchase property arising of legal proceeding
  • Not bid or transfer property arising of legal proceeding
  • Not adjust fees against personal liability
  • An advocate should not misuse or takes advantage of the confidence reposed in him by his client.
  • Keep proper accounts
  • Divert money from accounts
  • Intimate the client on amounts
  • Adjust fees after termination of proceedings
  • Provide copy of accounts
  • An advocate shall not enter into arrangements whereby funds in his hands are converted into loans.
  • Not lend money to his client
  • Not appear for opposite parties

RULES ON ADVOCATE’S DUTY TO OPPONENTS

  • Not to negotiate directly with opposing party
  • Carry out legitimate promises made

RULES ON AN ADVOCATE’S DUTY TOWARDS FELLOW ADVOCATES

  • Not advertise or solicit work
  • Sign-board and Name-plate
  • Not promote unauthorized practice of law
  • An advocate shall not accept a fee less than the fee, which can be taxed under rules when the client is able to pay more.
  • Consent of fellow advocate to appear

To whom can you complain about a breach of professional ethics or professional misconduct by a lawyer?

As per section 6 of the Advocates Act, 1961, the State Bar Council may entertain and determine cases of misconduct against
advocates on its roll.

If the advocate is NOT enrolled on the rolls of any State Bar Council then section 36 will apply i.e.:

36. Disciplinary powers of Bar Council of India
(1) Where on receipt of a complaint or otherwise the Bar Council of India has reason to believe that any advocate whose name is not entered on any State roll has been guilty of professional or other misconduct, it shall refer the case for disposal to its disciplinary committee.

This means that you can directly complain to the State Bar Council where the advocate is practicing. Or if the advocate is not enrolled with any State Bar, you can complain directly to the BCI.

To find out if a lawyer is enrolled with a State Bar Council, you can file an application under the RTI Act for the same.

Can the State Bar Council or Bar Council of India take action against a lawyer on its own?

Yes. As per section 35 of the Advocates Act, 1961:

35. Punishment of advocates for misconduct
(1) Where on receipt of a complaint or otherwise a State Bar Council has reason to believe that any advocate on its roll has been guilty of professional or other misconduct, it shall refer the case for disposal to its disciplinary committee.

This means that the State Bar can initiate suo motu action on its own, even without a formal complaint from any person, against an advocate on its rolls only.

Similarly under section 36, an advocate who is not enrolled on any State Bar can be prosecuted by the Bar Council of India (as above).

What is the procedure to complain against a lawyer?

–Coming soon–

What is the punishment for legal malpractice or professional misconduct by a lawyer in India?

(3) The disciplinary committee of a State Bar Council after giving the advocate concerned and the Advocate-General an opportunity of being heard, may make any of the following orders, namely:
(a) dismiss the complaint or, where the proceedings were initiated at the instance of the State Bar Council, direct that the proceedings be filed;
(b) reprimand the advocate;
(c) suspend the advocate from practice for such period as it may deem fit;
(d) remove the name of the advocate from the State roll of advocates.

This means that there can be three punishments for the advocate:

  • A warning issued by the disciplinary committee
  • Suspension from practice
  • Permanent removal from the rolls of the State Bar Council. This does not mean

–More coming soon–

9 thoughts on “How To Sue An Unprofessional or Unethical Lawyer in India

  1. Gajanan Deshmukh

    Great relief to have only read the article as i am a victim of legal terror by my counsel as the counsel has given me a notice for payment of hefty amount over and above the standard fees and also he never have issued any receipts for payments made. The counsel tried to push the our case to High court to frustrate our efforts to get the final justice and decree in lower court and in the process has filed a complaint against the Magistrate in High Court and also filed application for adjournment saying that we being defendant want to shift our case in District court. The counsel tried to take advantage of our ignorance of the court procedure. Your article above has offered some ray of hope.

  2. Gajanan Deshmukh

    I still am not aware as to how to take my lawyer to a task. Your guidance can help. Please guide

  3. Swapnil

    A lawyer has rented a flat and now is misusing his law knowledge to harass the landlord by not paying rent and not vacating the flat.

  4. bhasakar

    advocates are doing strike from last two months . please let me know how whom should we complaint

  5. kattiappur valsalan

    I was betrayed by my lawyer.The opposing party bribed my lawyer 30000 rupees to collude.
    My lawyer charged me 3 times the standard fees. My several courses worth of properties were taken away from me by collusion. The opposing party perjured and played fraud upon court.
    I have perfected title to my properties. my former 3 senior lawyers told me the opposing party approached them to bribe. The opposing party committed crime against justice system. lawyers stick together and protect each other . So what recourse I have? kindly please advise me.

  6. An insider

    First, change your advocate and file an appeal with the appellate court. Fraud once proven can change even a 50 year judgement. And fraud on court is an extremely serious matter. Rest is subjective depending on law and facts.

  7. RAMAKRISHNAN M

    Sir/madam ,
    I filed Fir against who attacked me brutally..today that case came to court, but opponents lawyer attacked me and he said I wanna withdraw that case like otherwise he deal me their goons .now I’m full depression and it’s too scary for me ., Pls guide me .he attacked me today i had injured also please help me..

  8. Looking for Answers

    I lost my husband and single handedly brought up my two daughters in my father’s home as my in laws clearly said that they cannot take the responsibility. Now both of my daughters are working and unmarried but we still do not have our own house to stay (currently we are staying in a rented house and paying 18K as rent). When I approached my in laws for a share of the house they did not show me any will but said they can only offer me and my two daughters 1/3rd share each of the price of the house which merely comes to 10L which is way below the market price & standard. I refused this offer and could only manage to see a tax bill which reflected that the tax was still being paid in the name of “mother-in-law & others” in 2014. The searching report also showed that the property has not been sold by my lawyer and now I suspect that he was bribed by opponent party ( which consists of my only sister-in-law’s daughter as she was supposedly transferred the house before my mother in law died, again this time with no proof). My lawyer also said that the house was under stay order so that they cannot sell it while the case proceedings are on but even after asking numerous times he didn’t give me the copy of the stay order citing one reason or the other. In January this year I got to know that they have sold the house and when enquired the lawyer said that my father in law (died in 1999) has written a will where he transferred the property to my sister in law – the same property which had no clear mention of name of its owner in tax bill. My lawyer has also stopped responding. Kindly suggest what actions can I take against my lawyer and my opponent party.

  9. VIMAL

    sir, I have found an advocate by name of Mr.M.Williams s/o late M.A.Micheal, who is claims to be an advocate, but when i enquired with an RTI, i got suprised that he is not an enrolled advocate, he belong to Hunsur court complex of Mysore Division of Karnataka. what steps should i take sir, I have got an complaint endosment with the DYSP OF HUNSUR, but they have not filled an FIR till date.

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