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  • Bhanu Pratap Singh and Shriyanka Dash

Can you sue your own advocate?

Medical and Legal professions are considered at the top in the list of

professions, for a reason that they both save lives. The legal profession,

unlike other professions, is placed in a very noble and respectable position

while offering legal services. A lawyer not only represents the interests of

his client, but he is also an officer of the court. The clients rely on their

lawyers with trust and confidence for proper advice and representation for

which the lawyers gets paid. But some advocates misuse their position and

cheat their clients by neglecting their case or giving false information and

in many other ways which would amount to professional misconduct or

negligence by the advocate. Such conduct by an advocate is governed

under different laws so that the reputation and trust towards the profession

is not hampered.


WHAT IS PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT?


The expression of professional misconduct in its simple sense means improper conduct.

In the context of misconduct of an advocate, any act or omission which makes the

advocate unfit for the profession or for which the profession loses its reputation and

the trust in the eyes of the public may be considered as misconduct. It may involve

improper or wrong behaviour, unlawful behaviour, a forbidden act, a transgression of

established and definite rule of action or code of conduct.



WHAT MAY INCLUDE PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT?


Some of the instances of professional misconduct by an advocate include:

a) Transferring the case file to another advocate without the permission of the client.

It is improper for an advocate to do such action when a case has been entrusted to

him by the client thus amounts to misconduct.

b) Misusing the court fee paid by the client for their personal use. Thus, if you are

paying your advocate for filing a suit and he is using that amount for other purposes instead of filing a suit, it will amount to misconduct by the advocate.

c) Giving improper/wrong advice to the client with intentionally to cheat. It is the duty

of the advocate to give his client the benefit of his learning and advise correctly.

Giving wrong advice to the client intentionally will amount to misconduct.

d) Appearing on behalf of the opposite party. It is the duty of an advocate to protect

the interest of his client in every possible manner. Thus, if the advocate is cheating on you by appearing on your behalf as well as for the opposite party,

such an act would amount to professional misconduct.

e) Providing false information about the case proceedings.

f) Not returning the important documents/Case file when the client wishes to

change the lawyer.

g) Receiving fee for appearing in a case and intentionally fails to appear.

h) Delaying the hearing of the case for demanding money from the client.

i) Settling a case without the client’s consent



WHAT DUTIES/OBLIGATIONS DOES AN ADVOCATE HAVE TOWARDS HIS

CLIENT?


The relationship between an advocate and his client is a relation of mutual trust and

confidence. This relationship creates certain duties/obligations on part of the advocate

towards his clients

⚫ It becomes the duty of the advocate to protect his client in the case in every way

possible.

⚫ Duty to be fair, honest and impartial towards his client.

⚫ Duty to avoid situations involving the difference of opinion between the lawyer’s

personal interest and his duty towards the client, and refrain from any personal

gain.

⚫ Obligation to exercise skillfully and carefully.

⚫ To advise his client correctly on all matters relevant and to consult with his client

on all questions of doubt.

⚫ Duty to keep his client updated about the necessary information related to the

case.

An advocate has a duty of care towards securing the interest of his client and is not

affected in any way by his act. Thus, a lawyer cannot claim exemption from liability

for any loss or injury suffered by the client due to any negligence in the conduct of his

professional duties.



WHAT ACTIONS CAN YOU TAKE AGAINST AN ADVOCATE FOR

PROFESSIONAL MISCONDUCT/ NEGLIGENCE?


A lawyer cannot ensure his client that he shall win the case in all circumstances. The

only assurance which he can give is that he would be exercising his skill with

reasonable care. Actions can be taken against an advocate if he has acted negligently

without reasonable care or if his acts amount to professional misconduct. In such a

situation following action can be taken against an advocate under the Advocates Act :


➢ A complaint can be made before the respective State Bar Council in the form of a

petition against an advocate for professional misconduct. After filing a complaint,

the bar council will forward it to the disciplinary committee of the bar for

disposal of the case.

➢ The advocate who is proven guilty of misconduct is punished by the disciplinary

committee of the State Bar Council in the form of disciplinary action only. No

civil punishments or any compensation can be given to the client.

➢ The advocate may be suspended from practice for a specific period of time or his

name may be removed from the states roll of advocates.


CONCLUSION:


The legal profession is considered as noble provides service to mankind and has

played a major role in the development of society. Generally, people approach a

lawyer in difficult times to get justice. It is because of the trust and confidence which

the public have on them which should not be misused by the lawyers. A person can

always take actions against an advocate for his unprofessional acts or negligence

under the Advocates Act. Thus, lawyers are in no way protected from liability for

their negligent acts or for any misconduct and can be held accountable for his acts.

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