Citizens' Issues
Why Lawyers Charge the Way They Do!
We wrote about judges not necessarily knowing all the laws, and got quite a bit of flak. No matter. At least, we are being read.
 
The third editorial in daily newspapers has, historically, been a tongue-in-cheek offering. While many a truth is hidden in jest, wry humour, every day, is difficult to create. So, when a finance daily takes on the lawyers, the courts and yoga, one needs to reflect on the column.
 
The Supreme Court was hearing a petition about yoga; overburdened, it has to suffer the indignities emanating from frivolous issues. The brethren had to decide whether or not yoga should be mandatory in schools. With such earth-shaking disputes on hand, the bench thought that levity was not in order. The opposing advocates were asked if any of them actually knew anything about yoga.
 
You be the judge. And judge the judges on this: Did the bench have the right to ask such a question?
 
You be the judge on this too: Should the lawyers have known more than they did?
 
Not being Baba Ramdev, someone mumbled something about pranayama, but the odds are that he must have heard it in passing, without actually understanding its true meaning. About whether the advocates failed in their duty, we think they did. If we firmly believe that every judge need not know every law, we equally strongly believe that every lawyer must be superbly versed in the brief that he holds. Otherwise, he is doing his client grave disservice.
 
It is incumbent upon every lawyer, advocate and counsel, to keep himself abreast of the intricacies of the dispute; he needs to grill his client more than questioning the opponent in cross-examination. The client needs to be both truthful and comprehensive in his explanations. He must, first of all, draw up a chronology of events leading to the dispute. He must collect all the documents pertaining to the case. Every scrap of paper is important. As I sit at home and type this, I realise that we have a roof over our heads because of one single envelope; one that I was using as a bookmark. Nothing is unimportant. The lawyer’s duty, next, is to segregate the wheat from the chaff, check the evidentiary documents against the chronology. He needs to punch holes in his own client’s story, fill in the gaps and make a coherent narrative to be presented to the court. He has to put himself in the shoes of the judge.
 
The next stop is the library. The lawyer must check on available material that relates to the case. He may have to go back years, even a hundred years, to dig out previously decided cases that bolster his own. Foundations may have been laid; he now needs to build the house. Nearly 40 years ago, a young advocate had upbraided me with some very wise words. “Never think you know everything. The other advocate will know what you do not.”
 
Overworked counsels sometimes rush through briefs; read only the prayers. The client should not force the pace. He should understand that humans can do only so much and give the advocate time to digest the matter. If not prepared, encourage asking for an adjournment. It will be granted. No litigant can suffer for the fault of his advocate. Courts are understanding and accommodative. There is, of course, a limit.
 
If the lawyer has to know all about the complexities and pitfalls, he needs help from the client. After all, the client has been in the thick of the situation and knows best. This is not a visit to the doctor where one pays the fees and gulps down the medicine. Legal warfare is against astute opponents and their appointees. Unlike germs, these forces fight back. Preparation is the key.
 
With this, we say ‘Good luck’ and hope readers understand why lawyers charge the way they do! 

User

COMMENTS

manoharlalsharma

6 months ago

there r two types of advocates one who can argue and second can make your case settled with out argument the second one r costly because they manege court staff as well stay of important government orders or they even wait till some favorable Judge will come and do settle his matter with pocketful of money so it depends on the kind of case you e fighting.

Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan

6 months ago

Advocate admits that he didn't file because he got a phone call.
Next advocate was overheard that such cases land up once in a blue moon (meaning he has to harvest when the sun shines)
Next advocate takes my car, knocks down somebody in drunken driving and takes refuge in a judge's house to escape law.

Sometimes money, like beauty is a curse.

REPLY

Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan

In Reply to Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan 6 months ago

Habeas corpus

Bapoo Malcolm

6 months ago

In every case there is a winner and a loser. One never hears a winner complain about the system. It's natural and logical.

Then again, when losers complain, is it not possible that they had a bad case to begin with? Or that they messed it up by not telling their lawyer the whole truth. Or that they did not do exactly as the lawyer suggested, but did something on the advice of an 'expert' or a 'friend' or 'someone who knew someone'. We have a case like that on our hands right this moment. Then why should the lawyer care what happens? How often does a lawyer have to clean up the mess that clients create? How many clients stick to just one lawyer and his advice? How many clients lay ALL their cards on the table? How many clients try for short cuts and actually prolong the case? How many clients fail to turn up regularly in courts?

There is a saying that it takes two to tango. So, when one hears complains from one side, especially the losing side, I say, let us hear the other side also. Audi alteram partem. It's the basis of law. Maybe the losing side got what it deserved.

MUKUND SHAH

6 months ago

The trial court judges are like a pathological lab owner.. blindly signe on a report tabled by a lab manager.. the trial court judge belive on a report of police constable...(a man to be purchase in Rs.100/-) this also base on distric hospital compounder report (report are made as per requirements of advocate) also give prime facie conclusion on a blind trust on a n advocate.. etiches of a judge and an advocate is on papers the actual facts to run the business of advocates and to increase the pending nos of cases. unsolve for or up to the life of senior citizens

Pradeep Kumar M Sreedharan

6 months ago

As a very well to do, marine engineer, who damaged his psyche, reduced to such penury that I could only afford to eat twice a day and damaged his career irreparably, in a 5 years divorce case, I know for sure why the lawyers charge the way they do. The court case abruptly reached conclusion once they realised, there is no more balance in my savings. Then they tried to aquire my car and washing machine at deep discount. Now I have reconstructed my life and is free of bitterness. This was more than 15 years ago. I find, to my dismay, the lawyers haven't changed and hence simply letting the "fate (law) take it's course without any lawyer representing me. I have no respect for the existing system. I find it hilarious that, in the age of Artificial Intelligence, the judge spends most part of the day calling attendance. Amazing lack of shame.

Bapoo Malcolm

6 months ago

The Amicus Curiae means he or she is a Friend (Amicus) of the court (Curiae). Usually, he is appointed by the court in a complicated matter or something in which the bench wants a dispassionate view. He must be well versed in the matter, and may not be a lawyer. Some call an intervenor an Amicus Curiae, but I think that is incorrect. An intervenor has some interest, personal, in the case, but has been initially excluded. For example, two brothers are fighting over a deceased father's property, keeping the sister out of the court case. The sister can intervene as an intervenor. That is obviously different from being court appointed, which an Amicus Curiae is. Usually, the work done is 'pro bono', free of charge. Hope the explanation is sufficient and useful. Thanks for asking. Shows readers' interest in what we do.

Gurudutt Mundkur

6 months ago

What is the AMICUS CURIE for?

Bapoo Malcolm

6 months ago

No one need be careful of Bapoo. But he likes people who are open up front. I guess I know who the silent simple man is.

Bapoo Malcolm

6 months ago

We do not answer anonymous people. If one is so scared to identify himself or herself, "Get off the mailing lists". Simply put, Simpleton! Name yourself. Show your face. Bare your teeth. Be a MAN.

REPLY

Govinda Warrier

In Reply to Bapoo Malcolm 6 months ago

Some people may be either shy or afraid. But allow them to express their views. We need not respond to everything. I've a friend who Informed me, he had purchased a laptop and had taken an internet connection. As we were talking over the phone, I asked his email ID. He said: Of course, I've an ID. But I've given it only to my daughters. These days, you know... We have to be careful..."
I think, this Simple Indian is a "careful" human being!

Simple Indian

6 months ago

While I understand Mr. Bapoo Malcolm's view, I feel one of the root causes of delay in judicial matters in India is indiscriminate adjournments granted by judges to unscrupulous lawyers who charge per appearance/day. Hence, I do not believe that only 'overworked' lawyers seek adjournments to better prepare their briefs & arguments in the "interest of clients". Lawyers too need to do some soul-searching on this, and not justify their greed. Moreover, lawyers, like doctors, scientists, teachers/professors, etc. are knowledge-driven professionals. Hence, they ought to be well-versed in their field of practice to be competent enough to represent clients. Clients don't pay for your degrees, but for your proven competency and track record.

SRINIVAS SHENOY

6 months ago

An interesting and well thought write up justifying exactly, why lawyers charge the way they do.

Vaibhav Dhoka

6 months ago

These days lawyer need not know the law,but his talent lies in managing the JUDGE.We are now era of Management.

ksrao

6 months ago

As the saying goes, a bad lawyer knows how to milk his client. A good lawyer knows the law. A better lawyer knows the judge.

ksrao

6 months ago

As the saying goes, a bad lawyer knows how to milk his client. A good lawyer knows the law. A better lawyer knows the judge.

Govinda Warrier

6 months ago

Interesting thoughts, indeed. I would extend the argument to the "homework" expected of all dependent on "remuneration" for work done. There should be some relationship between work and reward. Not only judges, every vigilant citizen need to worry about so called professionals, who do not do their homework, or do not do justice to the "service" they provide. Here, I include politicians and journalists.

REPLY

ksrao

In Reply to Govinda Warrier 6 months ago

Adjournments help both judges and lawyers. Judges can appear to be looking deep into the cases and taking time to give well-considered judgments. Lawyers give the impression to their clients that they have taken a lot of trouble attending the court on their behalf. Judges can complain of too much work then, and lawyers can demand more and more money from plaintiffs/defendants.

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Maharashtra's polluting factories make its rivers filthiest in India
There was a time when Hanif S. Parkar, a fisherman from Dhabol Khadi village in the coastal district of Ratnagiri in Maharashtra, could net 25 different kinds of fish from Vashisthi, the local river.
 
For the past 25 years, factories in the neighbouring industrial belt of Lote Parshuram have been dumping untreated effluents in the river, destroying all living forms in it. The fish are dying and the river no longer offers a livelihood for Parkar and others like him in the village.
 
For the last 15 years, Parkar has been campaigning against river pollution in the area, engaging with the officials of the Maharashtra Pollution Control Board (MPCB) as well as the Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) which maintains the belt.
 
Maharashtra, the state with India's biggest economy, also has the highest number of polluted river stretches in the country. And, at 161, it also has the most number of cities and towns along polluted stretches, according to a 2015 report of the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).
 
Of the 156 locations where the CPCB has set up its monitoring units on the 49 rivers and tributaries in the state, 153 do not meet the water quality criteria. The MPCB has issued more than 5,300 show-cause notices to erring factories between 2011 and 2017.
 
The MPCB has limited powers to discipline errant units, and hence the state has been unable to contain river pollution along its industrial zones. The board can issue notices or levy a small fine. But these measures are not strong enough to deter factories from emptying their waste into rivers.
 
The state has more than 75,000 manufacturing units that include automobile, tyre, textiles, chemicals and steel industries. Many of them are in the Pune-Chinchwad region.
 
Pune attracted 45% of the notices (2,392 of 5,276) issued to polluting factories between 2011 and 2016. This is thrice the number served to the region that attracted the second-most -- Kolhapur (673).
 
Pune also has the most polluted rivers in the state, according to a joint survey on water quality conducted in 2014 by the MPCB and The Energy and Resources Institute.
 
In 2007, the state government had drawn up a plan to develop infrastructure in the state to facilitate industrial growth. The plan included Pune, Nashik, Nagpur, Kolhapur, and Aurangabad. These regions, along with Navi Mumbai, are among the top six in the list of regions served the most notices by the MPCB.
 
Factories in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region -- comprising areas such as Mumbai, Navi Mumbai, Thane, Raigad and Kalyan -- received about 20 per cent of the notices.
 
The MPCB classifies factories on the basis of a pollution index, calculated by factoring in how much their operations pollute air and water, and generate hazardous waste. They are then classified into red, orange and green categories, red being heavily polluting.
 
Of the 5,276 notices issued by the MPCB, 65 per cent (3,445) went to factories in the red category. Orange and green categories attracted 1,599 and 232 notices, respectively.
 
A look at the list of erring companies showed that large-scale units were served with 47 per cent of the red-category notices. The rest were served to medium and small-scale industries.
 
In Kolhapur, which has the second-highest number of defaulting factories, 64 per cent of red-category notices were issued to medium and small-scale units. In Navi Mumbai -- third in the list of regions that got the most number of notices -- of the 282 factories categorised as red, 80 per cent are medium and small-scale.
 
Copies of the MPCB's directives to erring companies reveal that many factories have been discharging untreated effluents into rivers such as Warna, Sonpatra and Panchganga in Kolhapur, Ghot in Navi Mumbai, Savitri in Raigad, Godavari in Nashik and Krishna in Sangli and Satara.
 
The lax monitoring of and prosecution for water pollution in the state means that Common Effluent Treatment Plants (CETPs) routinely flout environmental guidelines on discharging untreated effluents into rivers.
 
Medium and small-scale industries depend on common plants for the mandatory treatment of their chemical waste. But the malfunctioning of even one can raise the levels of pollution caused by all the units dependent on the CETP. Currently, Maharashtra has 24 CETPs; five more are set to come up.
 
Of five CETPs in the Dombivli-Ambernath belt, four were not working, according to a March 2016 affidavit submitted by the CPCB to the National Green Tribunal (NGT). Three years before that, in 2013, the level of pollutants in treated effluent was found to be "dangerously high" at three CETPs in Pune.
 
Experts allege that the MPCB doesn't implement rules and regulations in letter and spirit. Time and again, social activists and NGOs have blamed the board for laxity in the enforcement of environmental norms.
 
IndiaSpend analysed 150-odd notices served by the MPCB to erring units and found that in many cases, multiple directives had to be issued to the same company because it simply did not respond to an earlier alert. But merely serving notices means little, said experts.
 
"Industries know they can continue doing what they want to," said Geetanjoy Sahu, an assistant professor at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai, who is researching on compliance and enforcement of environmental laws in India. While the MPCB has issued directives to erring units, it hadn't taken any legal action against them, he pointed out.
 
Polluting companies only needed to give an assurance to the MPCB that they would comply with the norms and pay a small fine, IndiaSpend's investigations found. But law requires that any company found polluting its surroundings ought to be penalised and directed to restore the environment within a stipulated time.
 
The Bombay High Court too had taken note of such violations in an order passed after hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) in December 2011. The high court had observed that whenever the MPCB's regional officer sought to act against the polluting units in MIDC, Mahad, the chairperson of the board would modify the closure notice.
 
The chairperson would then impose certain conditions on the company and levy a fine to let it continue its operations, the court observed. The companies in question would then continue to flout pollution control norms.
 
"That is not a satisfactory manner of dealing with the problem. The damage is being caused to the rivers by the polluting industries," the high court noted while issuing a show-cause notice to the MPCB chairperson.
 
For Maharashtra, the year 2015 began with the Bharatiya Janata Party-Shiv Sena government scrapping the 15-year-old Rivers Regulation Zone policy. This was seen as a step towards the government's bid to promote manufacturing under its "Make in Maharashtra" campaign.
 
The move enabled all industries to set up their factories near rivers, sparking fears of aggravating water pollution. Besides widespread protests and PILs, even the NGT asked the state why the decision shouldn't be considered invalid from the outset.
 
The pollution control board has a sanctioned strength of 840 employees. Of these, 275 were vacant, as on January 01, 2017. On average, 150 posts were vacant each year during the last five years, an analysis of annual reports shows. Of the 840-strong workforce, only about 350 belong to technical and scientific teams.
 
The MPCB is required by law to grant or refuse consent to the operation of new factories within 120 days of a request for permission. If the board doesn't give its verdict in this period, consents are deemed granted. As of January 2013, more than 17,500 consents had been pending for more than 120 days, according to the board's own records.
 
"This is an alarming situation. These 17,500 factories can start operations without having the mandatory environment protection guidelines from the board," said Sahu of TISS.
 
In April 2016, the NGT had directed the union environment ministry to intervene, noting that the MPCB had failed to check the discharge of untreated effluent into Ulhas river in Mumbai metropolitan region. In view of the MPBC's inability to do its job, the CPCB had requested permission to monitor Maharashtra's CETPs.
 
The treatment of liquid waste is a costly affair for any factory, more so for a chemical unit, a former senior official of the pollution control board, on condition of anonymity, told IndiaSpend. A bribe could help keep costs low, said the official.
 
As many as 1,726 industrial units in Maharashtra that are prone to polluting water have only partial facilities to treat their effluents, according to the Comptroller and Auditor General's 2011 report on the MPCB. The report said 356 units have no treatment facility at all.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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