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BCI cracks down on online legal service advertisements following Madras HC ruling

INDBCI cracks down on online legal service advertisements following Madras HC ruling


Madras HC emphasized that the legal profession is a noble service to society and not a business driven by profit motives.
| Photo Credit: K. PICHUMANI

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has instructed all State Bar Councils to take strict disciplinary actions against advocates found advertising or seeking work through online portals, which is a direct violation of the Bar Council of India Rules.

This directive follows a July 3 judgment by the Madras High Court, which emphasized that the legal profession is a noble service to society and not a business driven by profit motives. The judgment scrutinized the practices of online platforms offering lawyer services and deemed them in violation of the BCI Rules.

The High Court reaffirmed that under Rule 36 of the BCI Rules, advocates are prohibited from advertising or soliciting work, either directly or indirectly.

It said marketing of lawyers “brings down the nobility and integrity of the profession”.

The High Court concluded that the involvement of online intermediaries in facilitating lawyer services breaches professional conduct standards.

In response, the BCI has issued cease and desist notices to major online service providers, including Quikr India, Sulekha.com, Just Dial Limited, and Grotal.com. These notices address the illegal advertising and solicitation of legal services on these platforms.

The online platforms have been directed 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. They have also been instructed to cease any operations that enable the advertisement or solicitation of legal practice by advocates.

“Failure to comply with these directives will result in the BCI initiating legal proceedings and seeking appropriate penalties against the non-compliant organizations,” the BCI stated in a press release.

“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 Any advertisements contravening the aforementioned Rule must be withdrawn forthwith,” the BCI reiterated in the press statement.



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