This is about how “Some” (Not all) lawyers charge their fees.
This is a sensitive matter. Because normally, we should never bother how other person is earning his bread.What I have written is based on hearsay, something heard from hear and there. Whatever I have said here is purely imaginary and it should NOT be taken seriously. There is no intention to cast any aspersions on any specific or general class of lawyers.
I also clarify this article is not about Prominent Senior Advocates who charge Rs.2.5 lakh to Rs. 1 Crore per day for appearing in Supreme Court.
This is about some average lawyers like me.
Begin at the Beginning
Let me begin with what a Retired High Court Judge of Patna High Court told me. At that point of time he was a District Judge. One day a shabby looking lawyer appeared before him to argue a case. Lwayer did not know under which provision he had filed case. He did not know facts of case. He did not know any law. The Judge shouted and scolded him,”Never again appear in my court without preparation” Judge said while dismissing his case.
During lunch hour, in his chamber, the peon came to say that the shabby looking advocate wanted to meet him. He allowed him to come. The shabby looking advocate came and said ,”Sir, I am sorry I could not prepare case properly. I have not eaten anything since three days.”
Judge gave him some money from his pocket and also asked his peon to take him to some eating place and to see that he gets proper food.”
After three days, the Judge heard that the dead body of shabby looking advocate was found lying on a pavement near District Court.
I dedicate this article to this unknown DEAD LAWYER.
By this story, the first point I wish to make is this that the condition of thousand of lawyers practicing in District Court are like this. They are hand to mouth. They struggle every month to pay rent of their house and to maintain their family.
This may be my exaggeration. The percentage of such lawyers may be less than 2%. But whatever or wherever they may be, they do exist without being noticed by us.
Even in Supreme Court, I have seen 2 or 3 lawyers, who sleep in some kind of shelter at night and are back to work in Supreme Court in morning. They are seen in every District Court and High Court Bar
How A Junior Advocate is taught to fix his fees
When I joined Bar in 1982, the first difficulty I faced was how to quote fees to a client. I asked my senior, how should I quote fees. He taught me a formula. “Just quote Rs. 1 Lakh”. Client will say, “This is too much. I can’t afford this much.” Then you say, “Al’right, how much can you afford?”, The client will say, “I can only afford Rs. 500/-“, You immediately say,”OK, Done” and take his papers.
This is second point which I wish to make. Large number of lawyers in India, charge you in accordance with your capacity to pay. Not according to time,work,knowledge or experience involved in the case.
Some lawyers who do not ask for fees.
Have you ever heard of lawyers who will never ask any fees from you for filing your case?
They will pay all court fees. If necessary, they will engage advocates for fighting your matter in High Court and Supreme Court also. They will pay these higher court lawyers” fees also from their pocket. If case is lost, they will loose everything spent on you.
Why do they do so?
My answers are as follows. These answers may be wrong.
Hard Working Lawyers At Self Expanses
One category, is of lawyers who fight land acquisition cases. Lawyers who file cases for dismissed workmen. Lawyers who file cases of Motor Accident Cases, Damages Claim cases, Consumer cases for complainants. In all such cases, affulent lawyers invest. They take risks. Put hard labour in your case. At the end of all such cases lots of money become receivable in hands of client client. At this time, they will take away 20% to 60% from total amount receivable by client. Nothing wrong about it except that it is illegal.
Fees by Misconduct to You
In second category comes lawyer who will charge minimum from you. He will see that all your queries are satisfied and he will see that you always remain happy. He will collect his fees frompockets of your opponent as consideration for losing your case.
He may forget to plead something or he may forget to ask some questions in cross examination. For this unfortunate error of judgement, you may lose case.
You may be a tenant. You may lose your case. You are evicted from house. Later you may learn that your lawyer has purchased the house from Landlord at a concessional rate. It happens. It happens all over world.
Fees by Misconduct To Judiciary
Third category is of lawyer who will not charge you much initially. But when arguments are over and when case is reserved for judgement, he will tell you that if you want to win the case you have to pay certain amount to Judge. You have already heard that there is some corruption in judiciary. So you will agree to pay amount indicated by lawyer.
Then he will say that some amount is also required to be paid to opposite lawyer to keep his mouth shut. You will also again agree and pay him cash.
Next day, if judgement comes in your favor, your lawyer keeps the money. If the judgement is against you, he will say that other side paid more money to Judge, so judge has to give order in favor of other side and judge has returned your money with thanks. He will then return you money collected from you for judge. But he will not return you money collected for opposite counsel.
The moral of these imaginary stories is, please pay reasonable fees to your lawyer so that he do not have think about other ways making money.And do not pay money in the name of Judge. If you will be dishonest with your lawyer in paying reasonable fee or if you may try to bribe judge, you may suffer.
4. What exactly is the Law regarding Structure of fees for Lawyers in India.
No one bothers how lawyers charge their fees. Rich Lawyers do not bother, because they have no time. Poor lawyers do not bother because they can do nothing. And this is problem of Bar about which Judges have little judicial control to oversee payment of fees.
Bar Council of India have welfare scheme for poor lawyers. But there is no initiative for standardization of structure of fees.
DISCLAIMER : This is a purely imaginary article written for purpose of academic discussion and to persuade awareness in capable people about need to construct a proper fee structures. There is no intention to hurt feelings of any lawyer or any class of lawyers.