SC calls for cap on hefty fees of lawyers

SC calls for cap on hefty fees of lawyers

The Supreme Court on Tuesday favoured a regulatory mechanism to check the astronomical fee being charged by lawyers, as it proved to be a barrier to access to justice.

"Mandate for the Bench (court) and the bar (lawyers) is to provide speedy and inexpensive justice to  the victim of injustice and to protect their rights. The legal system must continue to serve the victims of injustice," a bench of Justices Adarsh Kumar Goel and U U Lalit said.

The court emphasised that lawyers must remember their duty under Article 39A of the Constitution that provided for ensuring equal opportunity for access to justice to all.

Relying upon the Law Commission's suggestions in its 131st (1988) and 266th (2017) reports, the bench pointed out that it was the duty of Parliament to prescribe fee for services rendered by members of the legal profession.

"First step should be taken to prescribe floor and ceiling in fees," the court said.

"We hope that the government authorities concerned will take cognizance of the issue of introducing requisite legislative changes for an effective regulatory mechanism to check violation  of professional ethics and also to ensure access to legal services which is a major component of access to justice mandated under Article 39A of the Constitution," the bench added.

The court passed its observations while quashing a cheque dishonour case filed by an advocate against B Sunitha of Telangana. She claimed she was made to sign a cheque of Rs 10 lakh though she had already paid the fee. The advocate had sought the fees as part of the share of winning the case filed by her before the Motor Accident Claims Tribunal. The court said the claim of the advocate was against public policy and was a professional misconduct.

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