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NEW DELHI: Lawyers, like other professionals, are now free to advertise their services on Internet as the

Bar Council of India (BCI) on Monday informed the Supreme Court that it has relaxed its rules on the issue
in view of the changing global scenario.

In an affidavit filed through its secretary S Radhakrishnan, the BCI submitted that it has decided to permit
such advertisements.

The BCI's latest turnaround marks a significant departure from its earlier stand under which it took a stance
that the legal profession was not a trade and, hence, advocates could not be permitted to advertise about
their services.

For this purpose it has amended Rule 36, Section IV of the BCI which earlier prohibited the legal fraternity
from advertising their services.

Under the amended rule, advocates can mention in their chosen websites, their names, telephone numbers,
e-mail ID, professional qualification and areas of specialisation.

However, the BCI submitted that such advertisements can be issued only within the parameters fixed by it
under the amended regulations, and any breach of the same would invite disciplinary action.

The regulatory body had earlier taken the view that unlike western countries where lawyers were permitted
to advertise their services, the same cannot be permitted in India as it "cherished different ethos, social
values and ethical norms."

A bench headed by Justice B N Aggarwal which is hearing the matter took on record the BCI's latest
affidavit.
A section of the lawyers had challenged the BCI's regulations on advocates advertising their services.

Advocates can now advertise

Tue, Jul 29 03:24 AM

The Bar Council of India on Monday told a three-member bench of the Supreme Court headed by
Justice B N Aggarwal that it has decided to let advocates advertise on the internet.

The bench was hearing a petition filed by an advocate, V B Joshi, challenging Rule 36, Section IV
of the BCI rules which prohibits the legal fraternity from advertising their services.

Bringing an amendment to the said rule, the BCI resolved that advocates could furnish the
information on their chosen website. The amendment allows advocates to mention in their chosen
websites their names, telephone numbers, e-mail IDs and professional and educational
qualifications. Justice S H Kapadia, who was part of the bench perusing the amended notification,
suggested that advocates may also state their areas of specialisation and years of experience.
The BCI had earlier contended that the legal profession was not a trade and hence, advocates
could not be permitted to advertise their services.

However, the BCI submitted that such advertisements can be issued only within the parameters
fixed by it under the amended regulations and any breach of the same would invite disciplinary
action and would constitute professional misconduct.

The regulatory body had earlier taken the view that unlike western countries where lawyers were
permitted to advertise their services, the same cannot be permitted in India as it "cherished
different ethos, social values and ethical norms."

Perusing it, the court directed the petitioner to file his response to the amended rule of the BCI
and adjourned the matter.

BCI says legal profession is not a trade

New Delhi: The Bar Council of India (BCI) on Tuesday made it


clear in the Supreme Court that it cannot permit lawyers practising
in the country to advertise, as legal profession is not a trade or
business.

Senior counsel M.N. Krishnamani, appearing for the BCI made this
submission before a three-Judge Bench consisting of Justices B.N.
Agrawal, P.P. Naolekar and P. Sathasivam hearing a petition for a
direction to allow lawyers to advertise or to give information
regarding availability of their services in different fields.

Stoutly opposing the petition, counsel brought to the notice of the


court that already a four-judge Bench of the apex court had upheld
the validity of Rule 36 of the BCI rules prohibiting lawyers from
advertising either directly or indirectly. On the contention that
lawyers in Western countries were allowed to advertise, he said the
situation prevailing in the United Kingdom or the United States
was entirely different from Indian conditions, where about 80 per
cent of the lawyers could not afford to make any advertisements.
He said if permission was granted for soliciting only rich advocates
would derive benefit.
On behalf of the petitioner V.B. Joshi it was submitted that the BCI
should at least make available information about lawyers practising
in different branches of law. Referring to this plea Mr.
Krishanamani said that if the court gave such a direction, the BCI
would look into it.

Counter

The Centre in its counter submitted that the professional duty was
the backbone of this profession. The rule against soliciting was the
foundation of the legal system in India where legal profession was
always treated as a noble profession. Further members of the legal
profession were treated as officers of the court.

“The advocate owes duty not only to his clients but to the court and
to the society also,” it said and made it clear that BCI was the
competent body to take any decision in this regard.

The petitioner said “India is emerging in the global world as the


second largest democratic country having half a million advocates
practising throughout India and it is a challenge to the entire
world. The world must know that in India we have competent
lawyers, arbitrators, judges and we have the professional expertise
to cater to the needs of the entire world.”

Pointing out that Rule 36 of the BCI rules was an archaic rule h e
sought suitable amendments to allow lawyers to advertise about
their profession. The Bench has adjourned the hearing to
September 18.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu

Courtesy_
THE HINDU

Another related stories in THE HINDU, dated 29-12-2005


as follows:

AIBA seeks guidelines on lawyers soliciting work through


advertisement
J. Venkatesan

"Names of some lawyers were found in websites"

NEW DELHI: The All India Bar Association has asked the Bar
Council of India to come out with clear guidelines on whether or
not advocates can solicit work through advertisements in
newspapers or by creating `websites' informing about their
activities.

In a statement, the Chairman and Vice-Chairman, Adish C.


Agarwala, and S. Prabhakaran, said the attention of the AIBA had
been drawn to advertisements issued by lawyers and law firms in
`websites' giving their names and addresses.

They pointed out that the names of some lawyers were found in
websites particularly in `Google search.'

The statement said that thanks to the BCI's initiative, the Centre
had taken a firm stand not to allow the entry of foreign law
companies to practice in Indian courts.

Considering the fact that the `issue of advertisements by advocates'


was still a "grey area," the BCI should take a definite stand on this
question to dispel the doubts of the legal fraternity.

`Rules clear`

Congress MP and former Chairman of the BCI, S.K. Kaarventhan,


told The Hindu , "the BCI rules are very clear. Rule 36 says, an
advocate shall not solicit work or advertise, either directly or
indirectly, whether by circulars, advertisements, touts, personal
communications, interviews etc... and Rule 37 says, an advocate
shall not permit his professional services or his name to be used in
aid of, or to make possible, the unauthorised practice of law by any
law agency."

According to him under these Rules, an Indian lawyer is not


allowed to advertise himself or his firm through websites or
brochures like foreign firms.
Complaints against 400 lawyers

He said a few years ago, the BCI received complaints that over 400
lawyers in Maharashtra had issued advertisements in various
forms.

The BCI asked the State Bar Council to issue notices to the lawyers
concerned and subsequently all advertisements were withdrawn.

The Supreme Court Bar Association president, P.H. Parekh, was of


the view that lawyers or law firms could merely give their names
and addresses in `websites' without specifying the areas of
specialisation.

He said the rules only prohibited advocates from soliciting work


and not mentioning the names and addresses. He too felt that it
was a "grey area" which required proper guidelines.

© Copyright 2000 - 2008 The Hindu