An advocate’s duties are not carried out in a vacuum. While facing financial and competitive pressures, advocates must fulfill and balance their duties to the client, opposing counsel, the administration of justice and society.
General duties of an advocate are given below:-
(1) To maintain cordial and fiduciary Relations with Clients:-
Due to the confidential relationship between the advocate and his client, it is the duty of an advocate to maintain cordial and fiduciary relationship with his clients. An advocate ought to bear in his mind that he has not to appear before a Court for two clients whose interests clash with each other in a case.
In giving opinions to his clients, an advocate should act as judge and advise soberly, discreetly and honestly to the best of his ability, knowledge and experience. The law requires of an advocate nothing but the honest discharge of his duties to the best of his judgment. By accepting an engagement an advocate promises perfect legal knowledge with respect to subject matter of his employment. But if the advocate discharges his duties with ordinary and reasonable diligence, care and prudence, he will not be liable to the consequences arising thereafter.
An advocate must furnish true and correct account of all the moneys which the advocate receives on behalf of his clients. He should be prompt to undertake communications with his clients to give him full, correct and present position of the case which he is pursuing on behalf of his clients.
(2) To observe Rules of Bar Council:-
It is the duty of an advocate to observe certain legal and mandatory rules prescribed by the Bar Council of India in his dealings with his clients. According to a rule of Bar council of India, an advocate is bound to accept any brief in the Courts or Tribunals or before any Authority in or before which he professes to practise at a far consistent with his ‘standing at the Bar and the nature of the case. Special circumstances may justify his refusal to accept a particular brief.
Another rule of Bar Council of India presents that an advocate shall not ordinarily withdraw from engagement once accepted, without sufficient cause and unless reasonable and sufficient notice is given to the client. Further, another rule prescribes that an advocate should not accept a brief or appear in a case in which he has reason to believe that he will be witness and if being engaged in a case, it becomes apparent that he is a witness on a material question of fact, he will not continue to appear as an advocate if he can retire without jeopardising his client’s interest.
Another rule provides that it shall be the duty of an advocate fearlessly to uphold the interest of his client by all fair and honourable means without regard to any unpleasant consequences to himself or any other. He shall defend a person accused of crime regardless of his personal opinion as to the guilt of the accused, bearing in mind that his loyalty is to the law which requires that no man should be convicted without adequate evidence. Yet another rule provides that an advocate shall not directly or indirectly commit a breach of the obligations imposed by Section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act.
(3) Duty to maintain account of the clients:–
According to another rule of Bar Council of India, an advocate should keep accounts of the client’s money entrusted to him and accounts should show the amounts received from the client or on his behalf, the expenses” incurred for him and the debits made on account of fees with respective dates and all other necessary particulars.
(4) Duty to give receipt of the amounts received:-
Another rule provides that where any amount is received or given to him on behalf’ of his client, the fact that such receipt must be intimated to the client as early as possible. According to yet another rule after termination of the proceeding, the advocate shall be at liberty to appropriate towards the settled fee due to him any sum remaining unexpended out of the amount paid or sent to him for expenses or any amount that has come into his hands in that proceeding.
Another rule of Bar Council of India provides where the fee has been left unsettled, the advocate shall be entitled to deduct, out of all moneys of the client remaining in his hands, at the termination of proceedings for which he has been engaged, the fee payable made the rules of the Court in force for the time being, or by then settled and the balance, if any, shall be refunded to the client. Further, according to another rule, a copy of the client’s account shall be furnished to him on demand provided the necessary copying charge is paid. An advocate shall not enter into arrangements whereby funds in his hands are converted into loans.
(5) Duty not to lend to the clients:-
Lastly, an advocate shall not lend money to his clients, for the purpose of any action or legal proceedings in which he is engaged by such client. It has been provided under Section II of the Bar Council of India Rules, under the caption “explanation”, that an advocate shall not be held guilty of a breach of this rule, if in the course of a pending suit or proceeding, and without any arrangement with the client in respect of the same, the advocate feels compelled by reason of the rule of the Court to make a payment to the Court on account of the client for the progress of the suit or proceedings.
(6) Duty not to plead for the opposite party:-
Another rule provides that an advocate who has at any time, advised in connection with the institution of a suit, appeal or other matter, or has drawn pleadings or acted for a party, shall not act, appear or plead for the opposite party.
These are in nut-shell a few important duties for an advocate for achieving success in his profession.