Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Proposed law in India to ensure access to justice

The Ministry of Law and Justice in India has proposed a new law for the setting up of a Legal Services Board (LSB) which is functionally similar to the one established in England and Wales.

The draft bill is currently in the public consultation process and has been titled as The Legal Practitioners (Regulations and Maintenance of Standards in Professions, Protecting the Interest of Clients and Promoting the Rule of Law) Act, 2010. The LSB along with the central and state Bars would be responsible for overseeing the lawyers’ conduct with the aim of maintaining and developing standards, education and training of legal professionals in the country. It will be headed by a chairman appointed by the President of India in consultation with the Chief Justice of India and the Chairman of the Bar Council of India and other members. Some of the primary regulatory objectives of the LSB would be, to protect and promote public interest, support the constitutional principles of the rule of law and improve access to justice. A chief ombudsman and ombudsmen for each state would also be appointed to deal with complaints against legal professionals.

It must be noted that Section 27 (Chapter IV) of the bill makes it obligatory for all legal practitioners to give free legal services to the financially weaker clients who fall just above the income levels prescribed under Section 12 (h) of The Legal Services Authorities Act, 1987. This is a clear indication in the proposed enactment to encourage and involve lawyers in rendering their legal services on a pro bono basis and make them duty-bound in doing so.

Posted by
Anurag Bana
IBA Legal Projects Team

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