Under the Advocates Act 1961, there are two types of advocates in India. One of the types of advocates is senior advocates and there are other advocates. Senior advocate is a designation given to and advocate in India. An equivalent to senior advocate is Queens Counsel in United Kingdom. It is a type of status given to and advocate by a High Court of a state, for example Punjab and Haryana High Court at Chandigarh, or Supreme Court of India at New Delhi. This status designation is granted to and advocate because of his or her standing at the bar, exceptional and special knowledge in a particular field of law or some other exceptional ability or quality which deserves a distinction from other advocates.
Because of this designation, a senior advocate has more face value and the court than other advocates. He’s treated differently and with respect by the judges in the court. This is one of the main reasons that the fees quoted by senior advocates are sometimes more than 4 to 5 times than that of other advocates. But the fees which is charged by senior advocates is always justified given the fact that they are more prepared and more knowledgeable than other advocates and they have better standing before the courts.
It is well said that heavy lies the head which wears the crown. The same is true for senior advocates. There are certain things which are senior advocate cannot do. Senior advocate cannot –
1. File Vakalatnama or power of attorney as an advocate in his own name;
2. Take an adjournment before the court;
3. File any case or an application in his own name;
4. Meet clients in his own office.
This means that a senior advocate has to be accompanied by an assisting advocate in the court and the case is filed in the name of the assisting advocate, the assisting advocate takes an adjournment if required, all applications are made in the name of assisting advocate, the assisting advocate meets the clients, collects documents, drafts the petition or the case and then handles everything to the senior advocate who only argues the matter before the court. Therefore while the senior advocate must be experienced in handling that type of litigation, even the assisting advocate must be well experienced in handling a particular type of litigation so that all the facts and relevant case law are mentioned in the case before the case goes to the senior advocate. Needless to say that a senior advocate is always there to help the assisting counsel on a particular law point if need arises.
One must consider advantages and disadvantages (pros and cons) of all actions. Do you really understand what are pros and cons of having a senior advocate?.
1. A senior advocate has a right that he will be heard first before all other advocates in the case. This is important because the first points which are heard by a judge can make or break the case.
2. A senior advocate is more experienced in a particular field of law.
3. A senior advocate has better face value and the court because of his or her proven ability in the court.
4. He or she is better able to argue the case because he has more confidence than other advocates because of his designation as a senior advocate.
1. Fees of a senior advocate is more than other advocates. This is also because the fees of the senior advocate often includes the fees of the assisting counsel who is to appear with the senior advocate.
2. There is no data to substantiate that a particular lawyer, just because he or she is senior advocate, can argue better than a lawyer who is not a senior advocate. So why do you think you need a senior advocate only?
3. Any particular lawyer may be specializing in a particular area of law. Can you make prior assumption that only a particular senior advocate hold expertise in your litigation area?
4. Confidence is an attitude towards life. Advocates who are not senior advocates are also confident and capable.
5. It is said that a senior advocate has more face value. But does that mean that other advocates have no reputation and goodwill? No. Reputation depends on how an advocate conducts himself or herself in court. Nothing else.