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
Up-coming Events Search
Tools
Print
Font Size:
Translation
Channels
Mondaq on Twitter
 
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
 
Email Address
Company Name
Password
Confirm Password
Position
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Accounting
 Anti-trust
 Commercial
 Compliance
 Consumer
 Criminal
 Employment
 Energy
 Environment
 Family
 Finance
 Government
 Healthcare
 Immigration
 Insolvency
 Insurance
 International
 IP
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Litigation
 Media & IT
 Privacy
 Real Estate
 Strategy
 Tax
 Technology
 Transport
 Wealth Mgt
Regions
Africa
Asia
Asia Pacific
Australasia
Canada
Caribbean
Europe
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
U.K.
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement

Mondaq.com (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of www.mondaq.com

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). 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 & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about Mondaq.com’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.

Disclaimer

Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd 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 or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.

Registration

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to unsubscribe@mondaq.com with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.

Cookies

A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.

Links

This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.

Mail-A-Friend

If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.

Security

This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to webmaster@mondaq.com.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to EditorialAdvisor@mondaq.com.

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at enquiries@mondaq.com.

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at problems@mondaq.com and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.