The post is in continuation of our previous post here. This post is Part 2 of a series on the subject of Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette. The post has been contributed by Adv. Adeel Ahmed. He may be reached at email@example.com.
“Duty towards the Court” –
Just to recapitulate our last discussion on the above subject matter, the previous post here tried to introduce our readers to whether there are any prescribed Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette, and if there is, then what are these standards that are expected of the legal luminaries. Chapter II of the Bar Council of India Rules under Section 49 (1) (c) of the Bar Council of India Act attempts to set out the ideal code of conduct and exhaustively lays down guidelines of behaviour expected of professionals in terms of duties to be adhered to vis-à-vis the Court, the Client, Opponent, and Colleagues.
The great Lord Denning J. had said that a Barrister cannot pick or choose a brief or client and that the advocate is bound to accept a brief come what may. He further said that the advocate is duty bound to the Court and is always an officer of the Court, NOT a ‘mouth-piece’ of the Client.
“Judge is often considered the presiding deity in the temple of Justice.” This post attempts to elucidate the very first and foremost of duties as enshrined in the Rule-book – an Advocate’s Duty to Court, as enumerated herein below:
“1. An advocate shall, during the presentation of his case and while otherwise acting before a court, conduct himself with dignity and self-respect. He shall not be servile and whenever there is a proper ground for serious complaint against a judicial officer, it shall be his right and duty to submit his grievance to proper authorities.
2. An advocate shall maintain towards the courts a respectful attitude, bearing in mind that the dignity of the judicial office is essential for the survival of a free community.”
The word Advocate is derived from the Latin word ‘advocates’, which means “called for help”. Therefore, the advocate has to shoulder great moral responsibility while pleading for a just cause. The aforesaid two rules together embody that though there is an adversarial system of advocacy in bringing about justice, advocates are sought to bring about restraint and careful articulation whilst bringing about the same.
“3. An advocate shall not influence the decision of a court by any illegal or improper means. Private communications with a judge relating to a pending case are forbidden.
4. An advocate shall use his best efforts to restrain and prevent his client from resorting to sharp or unfair practices or from doing anything in relation to the court, opposing counsel or parties which the advocates himself ought not to do. An advocate shall refuse to represent the client who persists in such improper conduct. He shall not consider himself a mere mouth-piece of the client, and shall exercise his own judgment in the use of restrained language in correspondence, avoiding scurrilous attacks in pleadings, and using intemperate language during arguments in court.”
Misdemeanour may invite Contempt. The advocate is at all times expected to be courteous to the Court, and more importantly to the Judge who is the fulcrum of justice.
Lord Brougham’s defense of Queen Caroline is considered the embodiment of adversarial litigation, where while defending the Queen’s honor against charges of adultery he stopped at nothing in defending his Client. Statements were made so bold that the Monarchy was put to question, and he was promptly guided so, to which came back the sharp retort from the brave Counsel that “an advocate, by the sacred duty which he owes to his client, knows in the discharge of his office, but one person in the world, and that client and none other.” This was later condemned by Lord Brougham himself, and therefore, goes on to show that the advocate has to be respectful to the Court first and thereafter moot his client’s case in a fair, balanced and principled manner.
Image from here