Law & Judiciary

    BCI directs State Bar Councils to take action against lawyers advertising, seeking work through online portals

    The Hawk
    July8/ 2024
    Last Updated:

    Following a July 3, 2024, Madras High Court judgment, BCI demands immediate removal of all such online listings and profiles, with a compliance report due by August 10, 2024. Non-compliance will result in legal actions and penalties.

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    New Delhi: The Bar Council of India (BCI) has directed all State Bar Councils to take stringent disciplinary actions against advocates found advertising or seeking work through online portals, which is a direct violation of the Bar Council of India rules.
    The Bar Council of India has issued directives and cease and desist notices in compliance with a judgment pronounced on July 3, 2024 by the Madras High Court. The judgment underscores that the legal profession is a noble service to society and not a business driven by profit motives.
    In this regard, BCI directs the online platform to remove all listings, profiles, and advertisements related to legal practices by advocates immediately and no later than four weeks from the date of the notice. Cease and desist any operations enabling the advertisement or solicitation of legal practice by advocates. Submit a detailed compliance report outlining the actions taken to the BCI by August 10, 2024
    Failure to comply with these directives will result in the BCI initiating legal proceedings and seeking appropriate penalties against the non-compliant organizations, stated BCI.
    All portals, online platforms, and advocates found in violation of Rule-36 of the Bar Council of India Rules are hereby issued a public notice to ensure strict compliance with these Rules immediately. Any advertisements contravening the aforementioned Rule must be withdrawn forthwith, stated BCI.
    Practices of online platforms offering lawyer services were examined and found to be in violation of the BCI Rules. The permissibility of lawyers advertising and soliciting work was scrutinized and deemed inappropriate. The involvement of online intermediaries in facilitating lawyer services was assessed and found to be in breach of professional conduct standards. The court ruled that online platforms cannot seek protection under Section 79 of the Information Technology Act for activities illegal under the Advocates Act and BCI Rules, added Bar Council of India's statement.
    Recently Madras High Court directed BCI to issue Circulars/Instructions/Guidelines to the State Bar Councils to initiate disciplinary proceedings for misconduct against the Advocate's advertising, soliciting works directly or indirectly, whether by circulars, advertisements, touts, personal communication, interviews not warranted by personal relations, furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments or producing his photographs to be published in connection with the case where he is engaged or concerned.