Professional Misconduct According to Advocates Act

The legal profession is one of the noblest and most esteemed professions, upholding justice, defending rights, and ensuring the rule of law.

Lawyers are highly respected professionals who play a crucial role in upholding justice and safeguarding individual rights. Advocating for clients and defending their interests is a key aspect of their profession.

Bare Act PDFs

However, this important role comes with the responsibility of adhering to ethical standards and professional guidelines. The Advocates Act of 1961 in India provides a framework for lawyers’ conduct, defining misconduct and establishing disciplinary actions for violations.

Defining Professional Misconduct

The Advocates Act defines professional misconduct as any act or omission by an advocate violating the standards of professional conduct prescribed by the Act or the rules made thereunder. Section 35 of the Act enumerates various acts that constitute professional misconduct, including:

  • Accepting Fees in Certain Cases: Lawyers cannot charge fees based on a percentage of the legal dispute or hire others to generate work.
  • Communication with Parties: Lawyers cannot communicate directly with clients represented by another lawyer unless they do so through that lawyer.
  • Advertising and Solicitation: Advocates are restricted from advertising their services or soliciting work, directly or indirectly, except in specified circumstances.
  • Neglect of Duty: Failure to appear before a court or tribunal without sufficient cause, neglecting to attend to matters entrusted, or willful disobedience of any lawful court order constitutes misconduct.
  • Contempt of Court: Disrespectful behaviour toward the courts or interfering with the fair administration of justice constitutes professional misconduct.
  • Conviction of an Offence: If an advocate is found guilty of a crime that reflects poorly on their character, it is considered professional misconduct.
  • Professional Independence: Any action that undermines an advocate’s professional independence or brings discredit to the legal profession is deemed professional misconduct.

Related Law Note: Balance Between Rights and Duties of Advocates Under the Advocates Act

Disciplinary Proceedings

If a lawyer is suspected of misconduct, the law allows for disciplinary steps to be taken. The State Bar Council, the Bar Council of India, or a related disciplinary committee can investigate complaints of misconduct. These committees can take appropriate disciplinary measures. The accused lawyer must be given a fair chance to defend themselves and cross-examine witnesses during these proceedings.

Penalties and Remedies

Suppose an advocate is found guilty of professional misconduct. In that case, the disciplinary authority may impose various penalties, including suspension of the advocate from practice for a specified period, removal of the advocate’s name from the roll of advocates, or reprimand and censure. Additionally, the aggrieved party may seek remedies such as restitution or damages through civil litigation.

Bare Act PDFs

1. Penalties

Suspension from Practice: Advocates found guilty of professional misconduct may be suspended from practising law for a specified period. During this period, the advocate is prohibited from representing clients or engaging in any legal activities.

Removal from Roll: In severe cases of misconduct, the disciplinary authority may order the advocate’s name removed from the roll of advocates, effectively disqualifying them from practising law. This is a significant penalty that permanently bars the advocate from legal practice.

Reprimand and Censure: For less severe instances of misconduct, the disciplinary authority may issue a reprimand or censure, formally admonishing the advocate for their actions. While not as severe as suspension or removal, reprimand and censure are disciplinary measures and may affect the advocate’s reputation.

2. Remedies

Restitution: If an advocate’s misconduct results in financial loss or harm to a client or third party, the aggrieved party may seek restitution. This involves the advocate reimbursing the affected party for any damages incurred due to the misconduct. Restitution aims to restore the aggrieved party to the position they would have been in had the misconduct not occurred.

Corrective Measures: In some cases, the disciplinary authority may impose corrective measures as part of the remedy for professional misconduct. This could include requiring the advocate to undergo additional training or education on ethics and professional conduct or mandating supervision or monitoring of their practice to prevent future violations.

Apology or Acknowledgment: As part of the remedy, the advocate may be required to formally apologise or acknowledge their misconduct to the aggrieved party or the public. This serves to acknowledge wrongdoing and demonstrate accountability.


Advocates’ professional misconduct undermines the integrity of the legal profession and erodes public trust in the administration of justice. The Advocates Act of 1961 establishes clear standards of conduct for advocates and provides mechanisms for enforcing discipline and accountability. Upholding ethical principles and maintaining the highest standards of professionalism are essential for preserving the sanctity of the legal profession and ensuring access to justice for all.

Suhani Dhariwal
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