Pranjali Pandya, pursuing BA LL.B. (Hons.) from Damodaram Sanjivayya National Law University, Vishakapatnam.
NECESSITY OF PROFESSIONAL ETHICS AND EMERGING CHALLENGES IN LEGAL SPHERE
We have observed in our history as to how humanity has
struggled with those aspects of our values and beliefs that concern the
morality of our conduct – what is right and what is wrong, what is good and as
to what is bad, actable and unacceptable to the society at large.
The profession of law is the only profession which is
generally described as a learned and noble profession by the entire world. The
profession in turn carries a lot of responsibilities both inside and outside
it, which no person carrying on any other profession has to shoulder. It is a
great controlling and unifying institution which places upon each his duties,
gives to each his rights and enforces from each obligations. The role of the
lawyer is very central to the very vital organ of the state that is the
Judiciary. On the stage of administration of justice, his contribution is of
immense importance. The lawyers as the social thinker have to play a special
role for the solidarity, unity, integrity, welfare and good of the society. A
profession which is performing such an essential service to the society must
also be expected to conduct itself to come up to the expectations of the
society. His professional conduct must be above board. A deviance on the part
of the individual members of the legal profession has a bearing on the
interest, lives and condition of the life of the members of the society. Hence,
the society has an interest in the manner of regulation of the deviations,
deviances and delinquencies in the profession conduct of this profession.
It is very pertinent to note that the profession of
lawyers ordains a high level of ethics as much as in the means as in the ends.
Justice cannot be attained without the stream being pellucid throughout its
course and this is of great public concern, not merely profession care, the
standards of professional conduct, that is the legal ethics not only serve the
interest of the society but they also help the legal profession to maintain the
honour and dignity of the very profession and the system of administration of
justice prevailing in the society. Further, to secure a spirit of friendly
cooperation between the bench and the Bar in promotion of highest standards of
justice. The same establishes honourable and fair dealings of the counsel with the
client, opponent and witnesses. Above all the lawyers discharge their
responsibilities to community at large.
WHAT DO ETHICS MEAN?
The word is derived from the Greek word that is “Ethos” which means custom or a habitual
mode of conduct. Ethics in easy term refers to moral science. It is the branch
of philosophy which is only concerned with human character and conduct.
Ethics also refer to systematic general science of
right and wrong conduct of an individual, and morals or morality which refers to
the actual patterns of conduct and direct working rules of moral action. Ethics
can be said to be the study of human actions in respect of they being right or
wrong actions of individuals and social groups with which we are now concerned
is the one belonging to the profession of law.
Besides all these, it is pertinent to note that a
lawyer must behave in a dignifies manner during the time od his case as well as
while acting before the court. He should conduct himself with self – respect.
Whenever there is a ground for complaint against a judicial authority, the
lawyer has a duty to submit his grievances to the concerned authorities.
ETHICS AND PROFESSIONAL ETHICS
The expressional “legal
ethics” is made up of noun “ethics”
qualified by the adjective that is “legal”.
Ethics is broadly a sense of duty. In other words, it is the sum of aggregate
of the rules of right living. The term “legal”
refers to “according to law”. “Legal ethics” is that branch of moral
science which lays down certain duties for observance which an advocate owes to
the society; to the Court; to the profession; to his opponent; to his clients
and himself. Legal ethics has their source from tradition. On regular practice
after some generations, they become usages, from usages to customs and from
customs to statutory rules that is etiquette.
Generally speaking, legal ethics denotes that body of
principles by which the conduct of members of legal profession is controlled,
more specifically and practically considered. More specifically and practically
considered, legal ethics may be defined as that branch of moral science which
treats of duties which an attorney – at – law owes to his clients, to the
courts, to the bar, and to the public.
Legal ethics refers to the ethics of the legal
profession. It is the body of rules and practices, which determine the
profession conduct of the members of the Bar and of the Bench. The phrase “legal ethics”, shows the existence of a
set of professional norms for lawyers apart from the moral rules which regulate
the conduct of men in general.
Legal ethics means “usages and customs among members of the legal profession involving
their moral and professional duties towards one another, towards clients and
towards the courts that branch of moral science which treats of the duties
which a member of legal profession owes to the public, to the courts, to his
professional brethren, and to his client.”
Legal ethics are not exclusively rules – based. The
customs and cultures of lawyers, to the extent that they have some effect on
the delivery of legal services should also be included within an extended
Lawyers` allegiances to these ethical values and canons of conduct have been
shaped through ages. The ethics of the profession developed as the profession
grew in the stature and assumed its dignified status as a strong arm of our
Such canons of conduct serve as a guide to understand
the social as well as the professional responsibilities of a lawyer. There were
certain traditional ethics at one time. Later, they were formulated into
statutory rules that is into law, by certain Act and Rules made there under
viz. The Legal Practitioners Act of 1879; Bar Councils Act of 1926, Letters
Patent of several High Courts and many more. These rules are now incorporates
in the Bar Council of India Rules. Therefore, these ethics have become
statutory rules now by virtue of legislation that is these ethics had become
The four interwoven ethics or conceptions of what a
lawyer ought to do can be discovered in lawyers` ethical debates, treatises and
judicial pronouncement. They are as follows – 
The ideal of
devoted service to clients in a legal system where citizens need advice and
representation to use the legal system (the advocacy ideal).
The ideal of
fidelity to the law and justice if the system is not to be sabotaged by clients
who will pay a lawyer to anything (the social responsibility ideal).
An ideal of
willingness to work for people and causes that are usually excluded from the
legal system (the just ideal).
The ideal of
courtesy, collegiality, and the mutual self – regulation amongst members of the
profession (the ideal of collegiality).
An advocate who is enrolled under any State Bar
Council has to strictly adhere to the Standards of Profession Conduct and
Etiquette. As they are statutory rules, they are mandatory in nature and
violation of any rule by any advocate attracts disciplinary enquiry by the
State Bar Council competent to suspend him from practice for a period of some
years and if the offence is very grave which renders him unfit to continue to
practice law, then he can be permanently struck off from the rill as an
advocate. Such power is exercised through the machinery of Disciplinary Committee
of the State Bar Council.
The Legal ethics is normally concerned with the
conduct of lawyers in their professional capacity; members of the Bar are
required to conform to high moral standards even outside the sphere of their
The Indian Bar Council has framed a Charter of
Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette, containing broadly five types
of duties to be observed by the advocates: duty to court, duty to client, duty to opponent, duty to colleague and miscellaneous duties. It is vital that every
advocate on the roll of a Bar Council follows the standards strictly. As a
member of the bar, a certain code of conduct is expected from an advocate as
the public views him with a sense of trust which he should try to fulfil at all
times. The ideals expected from lawyers are high especially in society where
more than half of the protection of their own rights.
A Advocate shall, at all the time, conduct himself in
a manner befitting his status as an officer of the Court, a privileged member
of the community; and a gentleman, bearing in mind that what may be lawful and
a moral for a person who is not a member of the bar, or for a member of the Bar
in his non – professional capacity may still be improper for an advocate.
Without prejudice to the generality of the foregoing obligations, an advocate
shall fearless uphold the interests of his client and in his conduct conform to
the rules hereafter mentioned both in letter and in spirit.
Persons into the profession of law by swearing that
they shall faithfully show allegiance, loyalty and respect to their country and
its laws, and render by all means, assistance to its enforcement. Lawyers shall
not either involve themselves or advise their clients for the violation of the
laws. When a lawyer advises the client to do something which involves the
breach of any law, such a lawyer becomes equally involved in that client`s
guilt, as if it is done by him. No plea of privilege to advise the client will
be available to the lawyer in such cases. Therefore no lawyer is privilege to
advise the client will be available to the lawyer in such cases. Therefore no
lawyer is privileged to assist in a breach of the law either for his own sake,
or for the private interest of the client. Strictly speaking, a reputable
lawyer is not even entitled to adopt the dishonourable attitude of finding out
any loopholes of the law in order to defeat in statute and advise the clients
how to avoid any burden resulting there from.
Professional ethics of lawyers can be stated as the duty of then towards their profession. There are moral duties and the very basic courtesy which every person in this field should know. A lawyer who does not work with sincerity or efficiency and also does not follow the rules of the conduct is said to have violated the code of ethics of the very profession. The fundamental purpose of legal ethics is to maintain honor and dignity of the legal profession to ensure the spirit of friendly co – operation, honourable and fair dealing of the counsel with his clients as well as to secure the responsibilities and duties of the lawyers towards its profession as well as towards its society at large.
Ismail, Profession Ethics and Etiquette, The
Law Weekly, 17 June, 1978, Vol. XCL (91), p. 77.
Wynans Jessup, The Professional Ideas of
Lawyer, 4 (1986).
Campbell (ed.), Black`s Law Dictionary,
Parker and Charles Sampford, (eds.), Legal
Ethics and Legal Practice – Contemporary Issues, 11 (1995).
Parker (ed.), Just Lawyers, 87
 Chapter II,
Section I, Rule 1 to 10.
 Chapter II,
Section II, Rule 11 to 33.
 Chapter II,
Section III, Rule 34 and 35.
 Chapter II,
Section IV, Rule 36 and 39.
 Chapter II,
Section IV – A – Advocated Welfare Fund, Section IV – duty to render legal aid
(Rule 46), Section VII – Restriction on other employment (Rule 47 – 52).