Professional ethics encompasses an ethical code governing the conduct of persons engaged in the practice of law as well as persons engaged in the legal sector. All members of the legal profession have a paramount duty to the Court and to the administration of justice. The duties prevail over all other duties, especially in the circumstances where there may be a conflict of duties. It is important that legal practitioners conduct themselves with integrity, provide proper assistance to the court, and promote public confidence in the court system. In carrying out their duties, they are required and expected to deal with other members of the legal profession with courtesy and integrity.Advocates, apart from being professionals, are also officers of the court and plays a vital role in the administration of justice.
Accordingly, the set of rules that governs their professional conduct arise out of the duties that they owe to the court, the client, their opponent and other advocates. Rules on the professional standards that an advocate needs to maintain are mentioned in Chapter II, Part VI of the Bar Council of India Rules. These Rules have been provided under section 49(1)(c) of the Advocates act, 1961.
State Bar Council and its Disciplinary Committee
Section 35 of the Advocates Act deals with the provisions regarding formulation and functioning of Disciplinary Committee under the State Bar Council. Under this, If any legal practitioner, if found guilty of any kind of professional misconduct, after providing an opportunity of being heard, may make any of the following orders:
Dismiss the complaint or where the proceedings were initiated at the instance of the State Bar Council, direct that the proceedings be filed;
Reprimand the advocate
Suspend the advocate for a period as it may deem fit
Remove the name of the advocate from the State roll of advocates.
In the case of Nortanmal Chauaisia v. M.R.Murli, the Supreme Court held that the term Misconduct has not been defined under the Advocates Act. Bu the term envisages breach of discipline, although it would not be possible to lay down as to what would lead to misconduct or indiscipline, which is wide enough to include wrongful act or omission, whether done intentionally or unintentionally. It also means improper behaviour, intentional wrong doing or deliberate violation of a rule of standard of behaviour.
The professional ethics can also be stated as the duties that has to be followed by an advocate during the course of his profession. These are moral and the very basic courtesy which every person in this field should know. An advocate who does not work with sincerity, who do not follow the rules of conduct, is said to have violated the code of ethics of this profession. The fundamental aim of legal ethics is to maintain honour and dignity of the law profession., to ensure the spirit of friendly co-operation, to ensure honourable and fair dealing of the counsel with his clients as well as to secure the responsibilities of the lawyers towards the society.