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Karnataka High Court notifies new rules for designation of lawyers as senior advocates

Following the Supreme Court's move to frame norms for according the designation of senior advocates, the Karnataka High Court has notified the The High Court of Karnataka (Designation of Senior Advocates Rules, 2018).

The rules, which came into force immediately after the release of the notification, state that no person with less than 10 years of experience practicing as an advocate shall be designated a senior lawyer. Apart from that, the lawyer is required to have "appeared and actually argued in some reported cases or cases involving important questions of law" for him/her to be designated as a senior advocate.

File image of Karnataka High Court.

File image of Karnataka High Court. Image Courtesy:

The notification comes pursuant to a Supreme Court order from October 2017, which laid down procedure for designating lawyers as senior advocates.

According the apex court's directions, a lawyer can be considered for granting 'senior' designation either through a proposal signed by the Chief Justice of the High Court, the Advocate General and two Senior Advocates, or by an application made by the advocate concerned.

The Supreme Court further directed that a permanent committee be set up, which would be responsible for considering and according senior designation to lawyers. The committee will be headed by the Chief Justice and second senior-most Supreme Court/high court judge. It will also include a representative of the Bar and the Attorney General in the case of the Supreme Court and Advocate General in the case of high courts.

The apex court also proposed setting up a secretariat to vet applications and proposals submitted by advocates seeking designation. The secretariat will not only verify and evaluate the seniority of a lawyer but will also give weightage to the reputation, conduct, and integrity of the advocate, including participation in pro-bono work.

According to Bar and Bench, the ruling also provides for an interview of the applicant before the committee, which will take a final call basis a point-based system. The point system, the Bar and Bench report said, should be as follows: Ten points for seniority level between 10 to 20 years of practicing law; twenty points for over 20 years of experience. Likewise, "40 points are for appearing in cases resulting in judgments which indicate the legal formulations advanced by the advocate, pro bono work, domain expertise, etc. 15 points are reserved for publications, and 25 points for suitability on the basis of interview," the report said.

The Supreme Court's directions came in response to a petition filed by lawyer Indira Jaising. Jaising questioned the discrimination meted out to capable advocates when it comes to “giving them the gown”. She had alleged violation of Article 14 and 15 by the Supreme Court in the procedure followed for designating lawyers as senior advocates.

Updated Date: Jun 16, 2018 16:32 PM

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