Supreme Court has expounded that,”Claim of advocate being against the public policy and being an act of the professional misconduct, proceedings in complaint filed by him have to be held to be abuse of process of law and have to be quashed”.
Apex Court held that a fee amount claim by a lawyer based on the percentage of subject matter in the litigation cannot be the basis of a complaint under Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act.
SC Bench comprising of Justice AK Goel and Justice UU Lalit enunciated that,”Claim made by lawyer based on a share in subject matter is a professional misconduct and proceedings in complaint filed by him have to be held to be abuse of process of law and have to be quashed”.
Widow of a man who died in a motor accident had approached High Court seeking to quashing a complaint filed by her lawyer who represented her in case seeking compensation, against her. She had contended that she had already paid ten lakhs as fee to lawyer and he had forced her to sign another cheque despite her stating that she was unable to pay more fee as she had no funds in her account thus claim made by lawyer was in violation of the Advocates Fee Rules and Ethics as fee could not be demanded on the percentage of the amount awarded as compensation to her.
High Court dismissed her plea holding that the Advocates’ Fee Rules are only for guidance and there was no bar to the fee being claimed beyond what is fixed under the Rules. High Court accepted advocate’s contention that the amount included his fee for engaging an advocate in High Court and Supreme Court.
Apex Court Bench strongly crticized the observations made by the HC in its judgment.
Supreme Court Bench further added that mere issuance of the cheque by client may not debar him from contesting the liability and if liability is disputed, advocate has to independently prove the contract..