Rules for Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette-Bar Council of India

(As passed by the Bar Council of India)


Standards of Professional Conduct and Etiquette

[Rules under Section 49(1)(c) of the Act read with the Proviso thereto]


An Advocate shall, at all times, comport himself in a manner befitting his status as an officer of the Court, a previleged member of the community, and a gentleman, tearing in mind that what may be lawful and 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 obligation, an Advocate shall fearlessly uphold the interests of his client, and in his conduct conform to the rules hereinafter mentioned both in letter and in spirit.

The rules hereinafter mentioned contain canons of conduct and etiquette adopted as general guides; yet the specific mention thereof shall not be construed as a denial of the existence of others equally imperative though not specifically mentioned.

Section I – Duty to the Court

1. An Advocate shall, during the presentation of his case and while otherwise acting before a Court, conduct himself with dignity and self respect. He shall not be servile and whenever there is proper ground for serious complaint against a judicial officer, it shall be his right and duty to submit his grievance to proper authorities.

2. An Advocate shall maintain towards the Courts a respectful attitude, bearing in mind that the dignity of the judicial office is essential for the survival of a free community.3. An Advocate shall not influence the decision of a Court by any illegal or improper means. Private communications with a judge relating to a pending case are forbidden.4. An Advocate shall use his best efforts to restrain and prevent his client from resorting to sharp or unfair practices or from doing anything in relation to the Court, opposing counsel or parties which the Advocate himself ought not to do. An Advocate shall refuse to represent the client who persists in such improper conduct. He shall not consider himself a mere mouth piece of the client, and shall exercise his own judgments in the use of restrained language in correspondence avoiding scurrilous attacks in pleadings, and using intemperate language during arguments in Court.’5. An Advocate shall appear in Court at all times only in the prescribed dress, and his appearance shall always be presentable.6. An Advocate shall not enter appearance, act, plead or practise in any way before a Court, Tribunal or Authority mentioned in Section 30 of the Act, if the sole or any member thereof is related to the Advocate as father, grand-father, son, grandson, uncle, brother, nephew, first cousin. husband, wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, brother-in-law, daughter-in-law or sister-in-law.7. An Advocate shall not wear bands or gown in public places other than in Courts except on such ceremonial occasions, and at such places as the Bar Council of India or the Court may prescribe.8. An Advocate shall not appear in or before any Court or Tribunal or any other authority for or against an organisation or any Institution, society or corporation, if he is a member of the Executive Committee of such organisation or institution or society or corporation. “Executive-Committee”, by whatever name it may be called, shall include any Committee or body of person which, for the time being, is vested with the general management of the affairs of the organisation or institution, society or corporation:Provided that this rule shall not apply to such a member appearing as “amicus curiae” or without a fee in a matter affecting the affairs of a Bar Council, Incorporated Law Society or a Bar Association.9. An Advocate should not act or plead in any matter in which he is himself pecuniarily interested.Illustration.

I. He should not act in a bankruptcy petition when he himself is also a creditor of the bankrupt.

II. He should not accept a brief from a company of which he is a director.

10. An Advocate shall not stand as a surety, or certify the soundness of a surety, for his client required for the purpose of any legal proceedings.

Section II – Duty to the Client

11. An Advocate is bound to accept any brief in the Courts or Tribunals or before any other authority in or before which he professes to practise at a fee consistent with his standing at the Bar and the nature of the case. Special circumstances may justify his refusal to accept a particular brief.

12. An Advocate shall not ordinarily withdraw from engagements once accepted, without sufficient cause and unless reasonable and sufficient notice is given to the client. Upon his withdrawal from a case, he shall refund such part of the fee as has not been earned.13. An Advocate should not accept a brief or appear in a case in which he has reason to believe that he will be a witness and if being engaged in a case, it becomes apparent that he is a witness on a material question of fact, he should not continue to appear as an Advocate if he can retire without jeopardising his client’s interests.14. An Advocate shall at the commencement of his engagement and during the continuance thereof, make all such full and frank disclosures to his client relating to his connection with the parties and any interest in or about the controversy as are likely to affect his client’s judgment in either engaging him or continuing the engagement.15. It shall be the duty of an Advocate fearlessly to uphold the interests 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 a 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.16. An Advocate appearing for the prosecution in a criminal trial shall so conduct the prosecution that it does not lead to conviction of the innocent. The suppression of material capable of establishing the innocence of the accused shall be scrupulously avoided.17. An Advocate shall not directly or indirectly, commit a breach of the obligations imposed by Section 126 of the Indian Evidence Act.18. An Advocate shall not at any time, be a party to fomenting of litigation.19. An Advocate shall not act on the instructions of any person other than his client or his authorised agent.20. An Advocate shall not stipulate for a fee contingent on the results of litigation or agree to share the proceeds thereof.21. An Advocate shall not buy or traffic in or stipulate for or agree to receive any share or interest in any actionable claim. Nothing in this Rule shall apply to stock, shares and debentures or government securities, or to any instruments which are, for the time being, by law or custom negotiable, or to any mercantile document of title to goods.22. An Advocate shall not, directly or indirectly, bid for or purchase, either in his own name or in any other name, for his own benefit or for the benefit of any other person, any property sold in the execution of a decree or order in any suit, appeal or other proceeding in which he was in any way professionally engaged. This prohibition, however, does not prevent an Advocate from bidding for or purchasing for his client any property which his client may himself legally bid for or purchase, provided the Advocate is expressly authorised in writing in this behalf.23. An Advocate shall not adjust fee payable to him by his client against his own personal liability to the client, which liability does not arise in the course of his employment as an Advocate.24. An Advocate shall not do any thing whereby he abuses or takes advantage of the confidence reposed in him by his client.25. An Advocate should keep accounts of the client’s money entrusted to him, and the 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.26. Where moneys are received from or on account of a client, the entries in the accounts should contain a reference as to whether the amounts have been received for fees or expenses, and during the course of the proceedings, no Advocate shall, except with the consent in writing of the client concerned be at liberty to divert any portion of the expenses towards fees.27. Where any amount is received or given to him on behalf of his client the fact of such receipt must be intimated to the client as early as possible.28. After the 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.29. Where the fee has been left unsettled, the Advocate shall be entitled to deduct, out of any moneys of the client remaining in his hands, at the termination of the proceeding for which he had been engaged, the fee payable under 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.30. A copy of the client’s account shall be furnished to him on demand provided the necessary copying charge is paid.31. An Advocate shall not enter into arrangements whereby funds in his hands are converted into loans.32. An Advocate shall not lend money to his client, for the purpose of any action or legal proceedings in which he is engaged by such client.Explanation. – 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.33. 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.

Section III – Duty to Opponent

34. An Advocate shall not in any way communicate or negotiate upon the subject matter of controversy with any party represented by an Advocate except through that Advocate.

35. An Advocate shall do his best to carry out all legitimate promises made to the opposite party even though not reduced to writing or enforceable under the rules of the Court.

Section IV – Duty to colleagues

36. An Advocate shall not solicit work or advertise, either directly or indirectly, whether by circulars, advertisements, touts, personal communications, interview not warranted by personal relations, furnishing or inspiring newspaper Comments or producing his photograph to be published in connection with cases in which he has been engaged or concerned. His sign-board or name-plate should be of a reasonable size. The sign-board or name-plate or stationery should not indicate that he is or has been President or Member of a Bar Council or of any Association or that he has been associated with any person or organisation or with any particular cause or matter or that he specialises in any particular type of work or that he has been a Judge or an Advocate-General.

37. An Advocate shall not permit his professional services or his name to be used in aid of or to make possible, the unauthorised practise of law by any lay agency.38. An Advocate shall not accept a fee less than the fee taxable under the rules when the client is able to pay the same.39. An Advocate shall not enter appearance in any case in which there is already a vakalatnama or memo or appearance filed by an Advocate engaged for a party except with his consent; in case such consent is not produced he shall apply to the Court stating reasons why the said consent could not be produced and he shall appear only after obtaining the permission of the Court.

Section IV – A

40. Every advocate borne on the rolls of the State Bar Council shall pay to the State Bar Council a sum of Rs. 30/- every third year commencing from 1st April, 1984 alongwith a statement of particulars as given in the form set out at the end of these Rules, the first payment to be made on or before 1st April, 1984 or such extended time as notified by the Bar Council of India:Provided, however, that an advocate shall be at liberty to pay the said amount in equal yearly instalments of Rs. 10/-, the first instalment to be payable on or before 1st April, 1984:Provided further that the amount already received for this purpose from an advocate shall be adjusted against the amount due from his as on 1st April, 1984.

41. (1) All the sums so collected by the State Bar Council in accordance with Rule 40 shall be credited in a separate fund known as “Bar Council of India Advocates Welfare Fund for the State” and shall be deposited in the bank as provided, hereunder.(2) The Bar Council of India Advocates Welfare Fund Committee for the State shall remit 20% of the total amount collected and credited to its account, to the Bar Council of India by the end of every month which shall be credited by the Bar Council of India and the Bar Council of India shall deposit the said amount in a separate fund to be known as “Bar Council of India Advocates Welfare Fund.” This fund shall be managed by the Welfare Committee of the Bar Council of India in the manner prescribed from time to time by the Bar Council of India for the Welfare of the Advocates.(3) The rest 80% of the total sum so collected by the Bar Council of India Advocates Welfare Fund Committee for the State under Rule 41(1) shall be utilised for the Welfare of the Advocates in respect of Welfare Schemes sponsored by the respective State Bar Councils and this fund shall be administered by the Advocates Welfare Committee for the State which shall submit its report annually to the Bar Council of India.

42. If any advocate fails to pay the aforesaid sum within the prescribed time as provided under rule 40, the Secretary of the Stale Bar Council shall issue to him a notice to show cause within a month why his right to practice be not suspended. In case the advocate pays the amount together with late fee of Rs. 5/- per month, or a part of a month subject to a maximum of Rs. 30/- within the period specified in notice, the proceedings shall be dropped. If the advocate does not pay the amount or fails to show sufficient cause, a Committee of three members constituted by the State Bar Council in this behalf may pass an order suspending the right of the advocate to practise:Provided that the order of suspension shall cease to be in force when the advocate concerned pays the amount alongwith a late fee of Rs. 50/- and obtain a certificate in this behalf from the State Bar Council.

43. An advocate who has been convicted of an offence mentioned under section 24A of the Advocates Act or has been declared insolvent or has taken full time service or part time service or engages in business or any avocation inconsistent with his practising as an Advocate or has incurred any disqualification mentioned in the Advocates Act or the rules made thereunder, shall send a declaration to that effect to the respective State Bar Council in which the Advocate is enrolled within ninety days from the date of such disqualification. If the advocate does not file the said declaration or fails to show sufficient cause for not filing such declaration provided therefor, the Committee constituted by the State Bar Council under rule 42 may pass orders suspending the right of the advocate to practise:Provided that it shall be open to the Committee to condone the delay on an application being made in this behalf;Provided further that an advocate who had after the date of his enrolment and before the coming into force of this rule, become subject to any of the disqualifications mentioned in this rule, shall within a period of ninety days of the coming into force of this rule send declaration referred to in this rule to the respective State Bar Council in which the Advocate is enrolled and on failure to do so by such Advocate all the provisions of this rule would apply.

44. An appeal shall lie to the Bar Council of India at the instance of an aggrieved advocate within a period of thirty days from the date of the order passed under Rules 42 and 43.

Form Under Rule 40

The Bar Council…………………………Dear Sirs,

(1) I am enclosing herewith a Postal Order/Bank Draft/Cash for Rs. 30/- being the payment under Rule 40, Chapter II, Part VI of the Rules of the Bar Council of India.

(2) I am enrolled as an Advocate on the Rolls of your State Bar Council.

(3) I am ordinarily practising at……………………………………………………… in the territory/State of………………………………………………….

(4) I am a member of the…………………………………………………………… Bar Association/ not a member of any Bar Association.

(5) My present address is………………………………………………….



Name in Block Letters

Enrolment No………………..

Received a sum of Rs. 30/- from……….,……………………………………….. towards payment under Rule 40, Chapter II, Part VI of the Rules of the Bar Council of India by way of Postal Order/Bank Draft/Cash on………………………………………………….Dated:Place:


Bar Council of…………….

44A. (1) There shall be a Bar Council of India Advocates Welfare Committee, consisting of five members elected from amongst the members of the Council. The term of the members of the Committee shall be co-extensive with their term in the Bar Council of India.(2) (i) Every State Bar Council shall have an Advocates Welfare Committee known as Bar Council of India Advocates Welfare Committee for the State.

(ii) The Committee shall consist of member Bar Council of India from the State concerned who shall be the Ex-Officio Chairman of the Committee and two members elected from amongst the members.

(iii) The Secretary of the State Bar Council concerned will act as Ex-Officio Secretary of the Committee,

(iv) The term of the member, Bar Council of India ion the Committee shall be co-extensive with his term in the Bar Council of India,

(v) The term of the members elected from the Stale Bar Council shall be two years.

(vi) Two members of the Committee will form a quorum of any meeting of the Committee.

(3) Every State Bar Council shall open an account in the name of the Bar Council of India Welfare Committee for the State, in any nationalised Bank.(4) No amount shall be withdrawn from the Bank unless the cheque is signed by the Chairman of the Welfare Committee and its Secretary.(5) The State Bar Council shall implement Welfare Schemes approved by the Bar Council of India through Advocates Welfare Committee as constituted under sub-clause (2) (i). The State Bar Councils may suggest suitable modifications in the Welfare Schemes or suggest more schemes, but such modifications or such suggested schemes shall have effect only after approval by the Bar Council of India.(6) The State Bar Council shall maintain separate account in respect of the Advocates Welfare Fund which shall be audited annually along with other accounts of the State Bar Council and send the same alongwith Auditors Report to the Bar Council of India.44B. The Bar Council of India shall utilise the funds received under Rule 41(2) in accordance with the schemes which may be framed from time to time.

Section V – Duty in imparting training

45. It is improper for an Advocate to demand or accept fees or any premium from any person as a consideration for imparting training in law under the rules prescribed by a State Bar Council to enable such person to qualify for enrolment under the Advocates Act, 1961.

Section VI – Duty to Render Legal Aid.

46. Every Advocate shall in the practice of the profession of law bear in mind that any one genuinely in need of a lawyer is entitled to legal assistance even though he cannot pay for it fully or adequately and that within the limits of an Advocates economic condition, free legal assistance to the indiligent and oppressed is one of the highest obligations an Advocate owes to society.

Section VII – Restriction on other Employments.

47. An Advocate shall not personally engage in any business but he may be a sleeping partner in a firm doing business provide that, in the opinion of the appropriate State Bar Council the nature of the business is not inconsistent with the dignity of the profession.48. An Advocate may be Director or Chairman of the Board of Directors of a company with or without any ordinary sitting fee, provided none of his duties are of an executive character. An Advocate shall not be a Managing Director or a Secretary of any company.49. An Advocate shall not be a full-time salaried employee of any person, government, firm, corporation or concern, so long as he continues to practise and shall, on taking up any such employment intimate the fact to the Bar Council on whose roll his name appears, and shall thereupon cease to practice as an Advocate so long as he continues in such employment.Nothing in this rule shall apply to a Law Officer of the Central Government or the Government of a State or of any Public Corporation or body constituted by statute who is entitled to be enrolled under the rules of his State Bar Council made under Section 28 (2) (d) read with Section 24(1) (e) of the Act despite his being a full time salaried employee.Law Officer for the purpose of this Rule means a person who is so designated by the terms of his appointment and who, be the said terms, is required to act and or (sic) lead in Courts on behalf of his employee.50. An Advocate who has inherited, or succeeded by survivorship, to a family business may continue it, but may not personally participate in the management thereof. He may continue to hold a share with others in any business which has decended to him by survivorship or inheritance or by will, provided he does not personally participate in the management thereof.51. An Advocate may review Parliamentary Bills for a remuneration, edit legal text books at a salary, do ‘press-vetting’ for newspapers, coach pupils for legal examinations, set and examine question papers; and subject to the rules against advertising and full-time employment, engage in broad-casting, journalism lecturing and teaching subjects, both legal and non-legal.52. Nothing in these rules shall prevent an Advocate from accepting, after obtaining the concept of the State Bar Council part-time employment provided that in the opinion of the State Bar Council the nature of the employment does not conflict with his professional work and is not inconsistent with the dignity of the profession. This rule shall be subject to such directives if any as may be issued by the Bar Council of India from time to time.


(Conditions for Right to Practice)

[Rules under Section 49 (1) (ah) of the Act]

1. Every Advocate shall be under an obligation to see that his name appears on the roll of the State Council within whose jurisdiction he ordinarily practices.2. An Advocate shall not enter into a partnership or any other arrangement for sharing remuneration with any person or legal Practitioner who is not an Advocate.3. Every Advocate shall keep informed the Bar Council on the roll of which his name stands, of every change of his address.4. The Council or a State Council can call upon an advocate to furnish the name of the State Council on the roll of which his name is entered, and call for other particulars.5. (1) An Advocate who voluntarily suspends his practice for any reason, whatsoever, shall intimate by registered post to the State Bar Council on the rolls of which his name is entered, of such suspension together with his certificate of enrolment in original.(2) Whenever any such advocate who has suspended his practice desires to resume his practice, he shall apply to the Secretary of the State Bar Council for resumption of practice, alongwith an affidavit, stating whether he has incurred any of the disqualifications under Section 24A, Chapter III of the Act during the period of suspension.(3) The Enrolment Committee of the State Bar Council may order the resumption of his practice and return the certificate to him with necessary endorsement. If the Enrolment Committee is of the view that the Advocate has incurred any of the disqualifications, the Committee shall refer the matter under proviso to Section 26(1) of the Act.(4) On suspension and resumption of practice the Secretary shall act in terms of Rule 24 of Part IX.”6. (1) An Advocate whose name has been removed by order of the Supreme Court or a High Court or the Bar Council as the case may be, shall not be entitled to practise the profession of law either before the Courts and authorities mentioned under Section 30 of the Act, or in chambers, or otherwise.(2) An Advocate who is under suspension, shall be under same disability during the period of such suspension as an Advocate whose name has been removed from the roll.7. An Officer shall not, for a period of two years after retirement or otherwise ceasing to be in service practice in the area to which his jurisdiction extended at the time of his retirement or otherwise ceased to be in service.Provided that nothing in these Rules shall prevent any such person from practising in any Court or tribunal or authority of superior jurisdiction to one in which he held office.

Explanation : – ‘Officer’ shall include, a Judicial Officer, Additional Judge of the High Court and Presiding Officer or Member of the Tribunal or authority or such other Officer or authority as referred to in Section 30 of the Act.’area’ shall mean area in which the person concerned was exercising jurisdiction.8. No Advocate shall be entitled to practice if in the opinion of the Council he is suffering from such contagious disease as makes his practice of law a hazard to the health of others. This disqualification shall last for such period as the Council directs from time to time.


Form of Dresses or Robes to be Worn by Advocates

[Rules under Section 49 (1) (gg) of the Act]

Advocates appearing in the Supreme Court, High Courts, Subordinate Courts, Tribunals or Authorities shall wear the following as part of their dress which shall be sober and dignified:-

Advocates other than lady Advocates

1. (a) a black buttoned up coat, chapkan, achkan, black sherwani and white bands with Advocates’ Gowns, or

(b) a black open breast coat, white shirt, white collar, stiff or soft, and white bands with Advocate’ Gowns.

In either case long trousers (white, black striped or gery) or Dhoti.

Lady Advocates

2. (a) Black and full or half sleeve jacket or blouse, white collar, stiff or soft, with white bands with Advocates’ Gowns:

(b) Sarees or long skirts (white, or black or any mellow or subdued colour without any print or design) or Flare (white, black or black striped or grey):

Provided that the wearing of Advocates’ gown shall be optional except when appearing in the Supreme Court or in a High Court:Provided further that in Courts other than the Supreme Court, High Court, District Court, Sessions Court or City Civil Court a black tie may be worn instead of bands.