Attorney-client privilege is a protection given to the communications between the advocate and their client in the course of their professional relationship. This privilege continues even after the termination of this professional relationship.

An Advocate’s Duties to Clients

Last updated on Jun 21, 2022

There are many duties that an advocate has to fulfil towards clients. Some of them include:

Accepting and withdrawing from cases

An advocate should:

  • Accept any case, unless exceptional circumstances exist.1 The Supreme Court has said that a lawyer cannot refuse a brief if a client is willing to pay his fee, and the lawyer is not otherwise engaged.2 The advocate’s fee will be based on their professional standing and the nature of the case.
  • Not withdraw from a case after accepting it. However, the advocate can withdraw if there is sufficient cause, after giving a reasonable and sufficient notice to the client. If the lawyer withdraws from a case, they have to refund any fee that has not been earned.3
  • Not accept or appear in a case for which the advocate might appear as a witness.4

Loyalty to the client

An advocate must:

  • Make full and frank disclosure to the client about the advocate’s connection towards the other parties and any other interest in the case.5
  • Uphold the interests of the client by all fair and honorable means.  Advocates should be loyal to this principle and should not let their personal beliefs about a client’s guilt stop them from accepting a case. Regardless of their personal opinion on the guilt of a client, advocates should defend the client.6
  • Not work for the conviction of an innocent person. For instance, advocates should not suppress material that could establish the innocence of a person in a criminal case.7
  • Only work as per the instruction of the client or the client’s agent.8
  • Not act, appear or argue for the opposite party if the advocate has advised, acted, appeared or pleaded for a client at any stage of a lawsuit.9

Upholding interests of the client

Advocates have to make sure that they:

  • Do not specify a fee that is dependent on the result of the case. An advocate should not agree to share the benefits that a client will get from a case.10
  • Do not abuse or take advantage of the trust of the client.11
  • Keep accounts of the money entrusted to them by the client.12
  • Do not accept a fee less than a fee which can be taxed, if the client is able to pay it.13

Failure to obey any of these duties may qualify for ‘Professional Misconduct’ by the Advocate, and a client can lodge a complaint against the advocate in the appropriate forum.

  1. Rule 11, Chapter II, Part VI, Bar Council of India Rules, 1975[]
  2. A.S. Mohammed Rafi v. State of Tamil Nadu, Criminal Appeal No. 2310 of 2010[]
  3. Rule 12, Chapter II, Part VI, Bar Council of India Rules, 1975[]
  4. Rule 13, Chapter II, Part VI, Bar Council of India Rules, 1975[]
  5. Rule 14, Chapter II, Part VI, Bar Council of India Rules, 1975[]
  6. Rule 15, Chapter II, Part VI, Bar Council of India Rules, 1975[]
  7. Rule 16, Chapter II, Part VI, Bar Council of India Rules, 1975[]
  8. Rule 19, Chapter II, Part VI, Bar Council of India Rules, 1975[]
  9. Rule 33, Chapter II, Part VI, Bar Council of India Rules, 1975[]
  10. Rule 20, Chapter II, Part VI, Bar Council of India Rules, 1975[]
  11. Rule 24, Chapter II, Part VI, Bar Council of India Rules, 1975[]
  12. Rule 25, Chapter II, Part VI, Bar Council of India Rules, 1975[]
  13. Rule 38, Chapter II, Part VI, Bar Council of India Rules, 1975[]

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