India: A Lawyer's Style Statement - Dressing Rules & More

Last Updated: 12 May 2017
Article by Dhir & Dhir Associates

The Thought Behind

Etiquette, couture and attire are subtle indicators of erudition and professionalism, especially for lawyers. According to the Business Insider, research shows that your appearance strongly influences other people's perception of your financial success, authority, trustworthiness, intelligence, and suitability for hire or promotion. Overall appearance and demeanor act as the determining factors for sharing information, developing trust and agreeable to prescribed fee structure.

As per The Bar Council of India (BCI)'s website, India has "approximately" 1.2 million lawyers in India plus "approximately" 400,000 to 500,000 studying law at this very minute, churning out "approximately" 60,000 to 70,000 graduates every year. While these numbers are as encouraging as they can be – to further emphasize their might, let us not forget that this puts us on a par with the US, which still seems to remain the world's largest legal market with 1,201,968 practising lawyers in 2010, according to the American Bar Association.

Having said so, it is indeed voluminous to understand the criticality and importance of how important it is for us to know the laid down rules as far as the prescribed uniform is concerned. This not only means knowledge of all the rules but dire implementation of the same as well. As officers of the court, advocates share a much bigger responsibility to refrain from the minutes of things that might be comprehended as contempt of court.

The legal profession is solemn in nature and its profundity is complemented by its attire. Hence, it is imperative for a lawyer to refrain from adorning flamboyant outfits that may act as a deterrent to a prospective client. Advocates, in addition to being professionals, are also officers of the courts and play a vital role in the administration of justice. Accordingly, the set of rules that govern their professional conduct arise out of the duty that they owe the court, the client, their opponents and other advocates.

The Indian legal system prescribes a dress code for the lawyers. Bar Council of India Rules, Chapter IV provides the dress code, which is stated as under:

Advocates other than Lady Advocates

  1. A black buttoned up coat, chapkan, achkan, black sherwani and white bands with Advocates Gowns, or
  2. A black open breast coat, white Collar stiff or, soft, and white bands with Advocates Gowns.

In either case long trousers (white, black striped or grey) or Dhoti excluding jeans.

Lady Advocates

  1. black and full or half sleeve jacket or blouse, white collar, stiff or soft, with white bands with Advocates Gowns:
  2. sarees or long skirts (white, or black or any mellow or subdued colour without any print or design) or Flare (white, black or black striped or grey):
  • provided that the wearing of Advocates gown shall be optional except when appearing in the Supreme Court or in a High Court.
  • provided further that in Court other than Supreme Court, High Court, District Court, Sessions Court or City Civil Court a black tie may be worn instead of bands."

Improper Dressing leads to Contempt of Court

The Court has the right to impose penalty and fine for not adhering to dress code. The punishment may go up to six months' imprisonment or a penalty fine of rupees two thousand. The Patna High Court has in the past imposed such a fine on two officials of the state government for not being dressed up in a proper manner during their appearance in the court. The court directed the chief secretary to ensure strict implementation of the dress code established by the state government in 1954 with regard to officials' appearance in the court. While one of the officials was clad in a gaudy red-green t-shirt, the other was "badly dressed". They had already committed a contempt of court by not implementing its order to pay compensation to a petitioner, whose land

had been acquired by the state government.

In another case, the Punjab and Haryana High Court had issued a notice for criminal contempt of court to a senior advocate for misbehavior and not following the dress code in the court. Apart from appearing in the Court wearing kurta-pyjama, the advocate had also entered into a debate with the judge.

Although hair styles, shoes and other accessories are not part of the dress code, an advocate is expected to support neat and well-groomed hairstyle. Wild, untamed or overly teased styles, hair dyed in unnatural colours like pink or purple needs to be avoided as it acts like a distraction and far cry from 'professionalism'. Shoes should be comfortable and preferably in black, brown, tan or grey. Shoes in red or pink colours or jogging shoes are not acceptable. Jewellery and accessory should be tasteful and limited. Extremely long nails painted in loud colours and flashy, large, gaudy dangling jewellery ought not to be worn.

An Advocate's Duty towards the Court

Act in a dignified manner - during the presentation of his case and also while acting before a court, an advocate should act in a dignified manner. He should at all times conduct himself with self-respect. However, whenever there is proper ground for serious complaint against a judicial officer, the advocate has a right and duty to submit his grievance to proper authorities.

Respect the court - should always show respect towards the court. An advocate has to bear in mind that the dignity and respect maintained towards judicial office is essential for the survival of a free community.

Not communicate in private - should not communicate in private to a judge with regard to any matter pending before the judge or any other judge. An advocate should not influence the decision of a court in any matter using illegal or improper means such as coercion, bribe etc.

Refuse to act in an illegal manner towards the opposition - should refuse to act in an illegal or improper manner towards the opposing counsel or the opposing parties. He shall also use his best efforts to restrain and prevent his client from acting in any illegal, improper manner or use unfair practices in any mater towards the judiciary, opposing counsel or the opposing parties.

Refuse to represent clients who insist on unfair means - shall refuse to represent any client who insists on using unfair or improper means. An advocate shall excise his own judgment in such matters. He shall not blindly follow the instructions of the client. He shall be dignified in use of his language in correspondence and during arguments in court. He shall not scandalously damage the reputation of the parties on false grounds during pleadings. He shall not use un-parliamentary language during arguments in the court.

Appear in proper dress code - should appear in court at all times only in the dress prescribed under the Bar Council of India Rules and his appearance should always be presentable.

Refuse to appear in front of relations - should not enter appearance, act, plead or practice in any way before a judicial authority if the sole or any member of the bench is related to the advocate as father, grandfather, son, grandson, uncle, brother, nephew, first cousin, husband, wife, mother, daughter, sister, aunt, niece, father-in-law, mother-in-law, son-in-law, brother-in-law daughter-in- law or sister-in-law.

Not to wear bands or gowns in public places - should not wear bands or gowns in public places other than in courts, except on such ceremonial occasions and at such places as the Bar Council of India or as the court may prescribe.

Not represe nt estab lishme nts of whic h he is a memb er - should not appear in or before any judicial authority, for or against any establishment if he is a member of the management of the establishment. This rule does not apply to a member appearing as 1amicus curiae11 or without a fee on behalf of the Bar Council, Incorporat ed Law Society or a Bar Association.

Not appear in matters of pecuniary interest - should not act or plead in any matter in which he has financial interests. For instance, he should not act in a bankruptcy petition when he is also a creditor of the bankrupt. He should also not accept a brief from a company of which he is a Director.

Not stand as surety for client - should not stand as a surety, or certify the soundness of a surety that his client requires for the purpose of any legal proceedings.

In a Nut Shell

While there are interesting times to be seen when it comes to the legal profession going through paradigm shift like liberalization of the sector, new practice areas etc. but constants like adhering to rules pertaining to uniforms etc. will remain one of the key identity parameters. So howsoever massive size the profession may expand into, it will always remain imperative for it to maintain its persona, imagery and identity.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on Mondaq.com.

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

Authors
 
In association with
Related Topics
 
Related Articles
 
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Mondaq Free Registration
Gain access to Mondaq global archive of over 375,000 articles covering 200 countries with a personalised News Alert and automatic login on this device.
Mondaq News Alert (some suggested topics and region)
Select Topics
Registration (please scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of www.mondaq.com

To Use Mondaq.com you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these Terms or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.

Disclaimer

The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.

General

Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions