Wednesday, December 6, 2017

SC calls for regulating hefty fees of lawyers

The astronomical fees charged by lawyers and the commercialisation of the legal profession is a violation of the fundamental right of the poor to get equal justice, the Supreme Court held in a judgment pronounced on Tuesday.

A Bench of Justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit, in a scathing judgment on the state of the legal profession, said that neither the Bar nor the judiciary have made any move to regularise the hefty fees charged by lawyers from the poor and the needy.

A report filed by the Law Commission way back in 1988 to regularise lawyers’ fees continues to be in cold storage. The very essence of the legal profession is to provide inexpensive access to justice, the court observed.

The apex court urged for a law to check the violation of professional ethics by lawyers.

The judgment came in the case of B. Sunitha, a woman from Telangana whose husband died in a road accident. She was made to sign a cheque for three lakh by a lawyer who represented her accident claims case in the lower courts. This was over and above the 10 lakh she had already paid to him.

In her petition in the apex court, filed through Supreme Court advocate K. Parameshwar, Ms. Sunitha argued that the lawyer had exploited her trust.

“The confidence of the public in the legal profession is integral to the confidence of the public in the legal system,” the Supreme Court observed.

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