Law & Ethics: Contemporary Issue

Published on 21 Jul 2017 by Team

In India, the legal professionals are said to be abided by various legal ethics that may seem outdated in many other jurisdictions abroad but are yet considered as a very important part of the legal profession. The Bar Council of India still maintains strict standards with respect to the legal community.One of the biggest example one can see is through Rule 36 of the Bar Council of India Rules whereby the Indian Law firms and lawyers are not allowed to advertise their practice in the market.

The judiciary has recognized the substance of this restriction in several cases. It does not merely imply that the Bar Council of India has been completely sightless to the realities of liberalization, as that is apparent from its decision to amend Rule 36 and add a proviso permitting advocates to keep websites about themselves or their law firms in order to distribute information, in order to enable people to make decisions.


Law is a system of rules and guidelines which are enforced through social institutions to govern behaviour, wherever possible. There are mainly three philosophical explanations of laws: 

  1. Law is command, backed by threat of sanctions, from a sovereign, to whom people have a habit of obedience; another is from natural lawyers L
  2. aw reflects essentially moral and unchangeable of nature with justice; law arises from both a social impulse and reasons; the last one is law’s positivism, which is totally contradictory to the natural ideas.
  3. Real law is entirely separate from morality and it emanates from the will to power.


Ethics is the philosophical study of morality while morality is the rules of conduct describing what people ought and ought not to do in various situations. Also, ethics are the rational, systematic analysis of conduct that can cause benefit or harm to other people. Ethics stress on logic and reasons. Different people can have different opinions about one situation as long as there are reasonable logics.

Law & Ethics

Stealing causes harm as everyone would live in fear of getting their possessions stolen and therefore the act of stealing must not be permissible. Raping and murder treat the victims as a means to end, making them wrong. The law thus prohibits such acts. Therefore it looks like the law makes it a national rule preventing what we find ethically wrong. However, this idea that ethics always determines law only makes sense at a superficial level.

To look more deeply into the matter, we must first make a distinction between rule of law and rule of man. In certain societies, the law is simply an instrument used by the ruling class to enforce rules that keep them in power or ideas the ruling class agree with. In such situations, it becomes clearer that law and ethics are distinct.

For instance,

In Nazi Germany, marriages between Jews and Germans were prohibited.

In Singapore, the Internal Security Act allows for the arrest and detainment of individuals without trial.

In modern China, the law prevents individuals from using the internet for the “spread of information that contains content subverting state power, undermining national unity or infringing upon national honour or interest”.

These are examples of laws that at a glance contradicts the idea that the law is set based on what we determine to be moral.

Commercial Competition should not vulgarize legal profession

The judiciary, reinforced these principles to be imitated in words of Justice Krishna Iyer when he noted, Law is not a trade, not briefs, not merchandise, and so the heaven of commercial competition should not vulgarize the legal profession.

The Courts have recognized the idea of ‘Legal Service’ as a ‘service’ rendered to the consumers, in the last few years, and have held that lawyers can be held accountable to the clients in the cases of deficiency of services. Just like in a Market if you purchase any good you need to pay a certain amount of charge for the goods. Similarly, what Lawyers offer you are their service in form of Drafting, Consultation or Arguing in Courts. It is simply the same as to the Seller to Consumer Relation.

If one is not satisfied with the Service that he gets, he may have the opportunity to bring out this matter in his interest. Also, Madras High Court held that, by virtue of Sec. 3 of Consumer Protection Act, 1986. Consumer redressal forums have the jurisdiction to hear the matters in relation to advocates. Sec. 2 (U) of competition Act, 2002 defines the term ‘Service’ along the lines of consumer protection Act, 1986. Thus, it may be settled that legal services have become subject to trade-related laws where consumer & service is the factor which revolves around it.

Consumer Oriented Society

The evolving legal service sector is subjected to be equally favourable to all consumers of legal services as well, without any discrimination. In the phase of Consumer oriented society & heavy competitive market, consumer’s right to free and fair struggle is utmost and cannot be denied by any other contemplation. Trade in legal services generally focuses on benefits ascertained to consumers from the legal service sector, particularly the quality of service available with respect to particular fields.

The Supreme Court observed lately, that some of the professionals have been adopting a prospectively casual approach to the practice of this occupation, they do not the only amount to contempt of court but to the positive disservice to the litigants.

Secondly, the services available to consumers in India are only domestic legal service providers. Corporate legal activities are recent experience in India and solution of some problematic legal issues can only be granted by professional Law firms, hence letting them the entry to the legal market shall be beneficial for the satisfaction of consumers in India.Various countries allow the idea of Legal Process Outsourcing and they tend to gain best of the legal services and solutions at viable prices. Existing regulations deprive consumers to derive benefit, which ultimately effects development.

The difference between laws and ethics

Ethics stress on the individual while laws stress on whole society. Towards a situation, different people have different ideas but the laws can only have one solution in order to show justice. Sometimes the laws are cold while people are influenced by the emotions to change the decisions.

Ethics emphasize on logic and reasons while laws are based on the words. The logic and reasons can be changed anytime but laws have been issued early. It cannot change no matter how good the logic and reasons are.

Ethics and laws sometimes make the same decision while sometimes not. It all depends on the situations. As long as there are sufficient reasons, we can support our own opinions, no matter whether it is right according to laws.

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