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Ethics in law

                                              Ethics in Law

The word ethics is derived from the Greek word ethos (character), and from the Latin word mores (customs). Together they combine to define how individuals choose to interact with one another. In philosophy, ethics defines what is good for the individual and for society and establishes the nature of duties that people owe themselves and one another.

      Legal ethics is a term used to describe a code of conduct governing proper professional behavior, which establishes the nature of obligations owed to individuals and to society. It can be simply defined as a code of conduct which may be written or unwritten. Such a code of conduct is meant to regulate the behaviour of a practising legal professional towards the court, the presiding judge, his client and his adversaries in the courtrooms. 

So why Ethics is important? 

The code of conduct in any profession is important, it is perhaps the most pressing in legal profession. Where lawyers are particularly viewed with suspicion. Compulsory conduct is therefore essential in ensuring the integrity of employees and the legal system as a whole. Legal ethics is important in both Bar & Bench, and if its not followed or promote the principles of justice, fairness and equality, the law itself will be violated and public confidence in the law will be undermined, thus preventing access to justice. Therefore, the legal profession has a great responsibility to the community as sponsors of the rule of law, as well as defenders of individual rights in the fight against abuse of power.

The Supreme Court in Hamraj L. Chulani v. Bar Council of Maharashtra and Goa, AIR 1996 SC 1708, has rightly observed that the legal profession is a companion with the judiciary in the administration of justice.

The bar council of India is framed by the BCI under Part VI of Chapter 2. This chapter deals with the standard of professional ethics and conduct of lawyers. It is important to go through the rules briefly to understand the importance of professional ethics of a lawyer towards the Court and the Client. 

Some rules that an Advocate needs to follow towards the court are:

  1. Respect everyone in court.

  2. Refuse to appear in front of relations.

  3. Not to wear bands or gowns in public place.

  4. Not stand as surety for client.

  5. Act in a dignified manner.      

Some rules that an Advocate needs to follow towards the client. 

  1. An advocate should not misuse or takes advantage of the confidence reposed in him by his client.

  2. Keep proper accounts.

  3. Divert money from accounts.

  4. Intimate the client on amounts.

  5. Adjust fees after termination of proceedings. 

Codified Professional Ethics provides a sense of social control. Every now and then each profession and industry (here the legal profession) a newcomer enters it. Thus, codified professional ethics makes the newcomer aware of the standards that need to be met with, in the profession. It also keeps the old members of a professional fraternity in line according to the standard of social requirement and expectations. The existence of code will have great educative, corrective and appreciable value for both the lawyers and the laymen.

     Lastly the need for Ethic code is required to uphold the dignity and order of the law profession; to establish moral and fair transactions of the advocates with their clients, witnesses, and opponents to maintain a spirit of friendly collaboration between the bar and bench in the furtherance of highest standard. The nature of the legal ethics reveals that it is an absolute mandate however the language of the Code (Under Advocate Act, 1961) makes it evident that advocates owe a duty towards the Bar, bench, their clients along with opposing counsels at the court.


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