Bombay High Court judge Justice Gautam Patel expressed shock and dismay after finding that a lawyer who was appearing for the plaintiff in the present case, had recently appeared for the defendant in another proceeding.
The lawyer had appeared in insolvency proceedings on behalf of the defendant company earlier and now he was appearing against the same company in the present commercial suit, in conflict of his interest.
What Happened To Our Ability To Say No: Ad-Interim Relief Vacated
“I am not going to continue this relief you have. You do what you want. I know our standards have slipped, but this much! There is no consideration of any consequence any longer. What happened to our ability to say no! I don’t understand how this lawyer entertained the plaintiff in his office, forget drafting the plaint and taking instructions. Is it possible to say that, that (the other proceeding) was a different matter,” Justice Patel vacated the ad-interim relief which was in favour of the plaintiff.
Justice Patel further stated that accepting that the practice of getting another lawyer to appear for your client in case of conflict was a prevalent practice. He expressed the disappointment that the lawyer had not even attempted to conceal it.
“I know how it is done to get around, but here there is no pretence. Maybe we should just shop on the original side (jurisdiction of Bombay High Court) and go! Just close it down, because this has become a marketplace,” said Justice Patel.
While informing that the plaintiffs were in the process of changing their advocate on record, arguing counsel apologised on behalf of the lawyer.
But Justice Patel refused to accept any apology and stated, “I am letting this go for a reason, but I am close to passing strictures. The lawyer is going to pay the consequences. Unfortunately, his client will also. I won’t even let you withdraw this now. Of all the lawyers in the world, the client had to walk into this lawyer’s chamber only?”
Maintaining a Reputation Was of Utmost Importance While in Litigation
“I don’t want to be too preachy, but these people need to understand, to stay in this profession, you need one asset – your reputation. Please convey this to your lawyer that judges do not live in isolation, as much as you believe,” said Justice Patel.