Government, SC in favour of ethics body for legal profession
The Indian government and the Supreme Court are in favour of setting up an independent body to regulate ethics in the legal profession, the absence of which has prevented the country from improving its global position in the enforcement of business contracts.In an endeavour to usher in major reforms in the legal profession, the Centre and country’s highest court have also suggested the need to regulate professional fees.
“Regulatory framework of the legal profession needs a review. There is need to regulate professional fee and ethics which can be done by an independent body instead of elected body of the Bar,” according to the minutes of the meeting that ET exclusively accessed. The meeting was attended by the top brass of the Prime Minister’s Office and secretaries from the ministries of finance, revenue and law and Niti Aayog
Demonstrating how the lack of a regulatory mechanism is adversely affecting the country’s position globally, the Department of Justice pointed out in a presentation to the judges and the government officials that “unsatisfactory regulation of legal profession was an obstacle in improving India’s ranking in enforcement of contract parameters under the World Bank Doing Business report.” India was ranked 130 out of 190 countries in ease of doing business, according to the World Bank report for 2017 and was placed 172 on the parameter of enforcing contracts, which measures the time and cost of resolving a commercial dispute and the quality of judicial processes.
As of now, legal professional ethics are regulated by state bar councils, while the Bar Council of India is the appellate forum at the national level.The government and the apex court referred to various reports submitted by the Law Commission of India.Difficulty caused to litigants on account of unruly lawyers proceeding on strike was emphasised during the meeting.“Strikes by lawyers result in obstruction in administration of justice,” the members recorded.
The Law Commission, under the chairmanship of former Justice BS Chauhan, had submitted a report to the government recently suggesting punitive action against lawyers going on strike.Emphasis was laid on the need to strengthen the framework to provide legal aid to the poor.
To ensure that a check is maintained on lawyers and their performance, it was suggested that “the Bar Council may introduce a mechanism for feedback by clients on advocates’ performance.”For this, it said “an independent website could be set up to provide information and to redress grievances of litigants against violation of ethics.”
The Economic Times, New Delhi ,23th October 2017