If you have hired an advocate to represent you in a legal matter, you expect them to act professionally and ethically.
However, sometimes you may encounter an advocate who is incompetent, dishonest, or abusive. In such cases, you may want to complain against them and seek justice.
But how do you complain against an advocate? What are the grounds for a complaint? Where do you file a complaint? What is the procedure for a complaint? What are the possible outcomes of a complaint?
In this article, we will answer all these questions and more.
We will provide you with the latest information and guidance on how to complain against an advocate in India.
What are the Grounds for a Complaint Against an Advocate?
A complaint against an advocate can be based on professional or other misconduct by the advocate.
Professional misconduct means any act or omission that violates the standards of conduct prescribed by the law or the rules of the Bar Council of India.
Other misconduct means any act or omission that is immoral, unlawful, or dishonorable.
Some examples of professional misconduct are:
- Taking money from both parties in a case
- Giving false or misleading information to the court or the client
- Appearing in a case without the consent of the client
- Neglecting or delaying the case
- Misappropriating or misusing the client’s money or property
- Breaching the confidentiality or privilege of the client
- Advertising or soliciting for professional work
- Influencing or bribing judges or witnesses
- Indulging in malpractice or fraud
Where do You File a Complaint Against an Advocate?
The appropriate forum to file a complaint against an advocate is the State Bar Council where the advocate is enrolled.
The State Bar Council is a statutory body that regulates and controls the legal profession in each state.
It has the power to receive, inquire, and decide complaints against advocates.
You can find out the address and contact details of your State Bar Council from its website or from any local bar association.
You can also approach the Bar Council of India, which is the apex body of all State Bar Councils, for guidance and assistance.
How do You File a Complaint Against an Advocate?
A complaint against an advocate has to be in the form of a petition.
It has to be duly signed and verified by you as required under the Code of Civil Procedure.
One has to mention your name, address, and occupation, as well as the name, address, and enrollment number of the advocate against whom you are complaining.
You have to state the facts and circumstances of your case, along with the grounds and evidence of misconduct by the advocate.
You have to also mention the relief that you are seeking from the State Bar Council.
One can find out the format and fees for filing a complaint from your State Bar Council.
What is the Procedure for a Complaint Against an Advocate?
After you file your complaint, the State Bar Council will refer it to one of its Disciplinary Committees for inquiry. The Disciplinary Committee will give an opportunity to both you and the advocate to present your case and evidence before it. The Advocate General of the state will also be present during the inquiry.
The Disciplinary Committee will then pass its order after considering all the facts and evidence. It can either dismiss your complaint if it finds no merit in it, or impose one of the following punishments on the advocate:
- Reprimand: This means a warning or censure by the State Bar Council.
- Suspension: This means temporarily barring the advocate from practicing law for a specified period.
- Removal: This means permanently deleting the name of the advocate from the state roll of advocates.
If you are not satisfied with the order of the Disciplinary Committee, you can appeal to the Bar Council of India within 60 days of receiving it. The Bar Council of India can either uphold, modify, or reverse the order of the Disciplinary Committee.
If you are still aggrieved by the order of the Bar Council of India, you can appeal to the Supreme Court within 60 days of receiving it. The Supreme Court can either confirm, vary, or set aside the order of the Bar Council of India.
What are Some Tips to Choose a Good Advocate and Avoid Disputes?
While filing a complaint against an advocate is your right, it is also advisable to avoid disputes and conflicts with your advocate as far as possible. Here are some tips to help you choose a good advocate and maintain a healthy and professional relationship with them:
- Do your research: Before hiring an advocate, do some background check on their qualifications, experience, reputation, and fees. You can ask for referrals from your friends, relatives, or colleagues, or use online platforms like LawRato to find and compare advocates based on your needs and preferences.
- Communicate clearly: Once you hire an advocate, communicate your expectations and requirements clearly and in writing. Ask for a written contract or agreement that specifies the scope of work, fees, mode of payment, duration of service, and terms and conditions. Keep a copy of all the documents and correspondence related to your case. Stay in touch with your advocate regularly and update them on any changes or developments in your case.
- Trust and respect: Trust your advocate’s professional judgment and expertise, but also ask questions and seek clarifications if you have any doubts or concerns. Respect your advocate’s time and schedule, and pay their fees promptly and as agreed. Do not interfere with their work or pressure them to do anything unethical or illegal.
- Seek feedback and resolution: If you are unhappy or dissatisfied with your advocate’s performance or conduct, give them honest and constructive feedback and seek a resolution. Try to resolve any issues amicably and mutually, without resorting to threats or accusations. If the issue is serious or unresolved, you can consider changing your advocate or filing a complaint against them.
Complaining against an advocate is a serious matter that should not be taken lightly or done frivolously.
It is a legal right that should be exercised responsibly and respectfully.
It is also a last resort that should be used only when all other options have failed.
If you have a genuine grievance against an advocate who has committed misconduct, you can file a complaint against them with the State Bar Council following the procedure explained in this article.
A good advocate can be your best ally and friend in your legal journey.
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