In a first of its kind, the Madhya Pradesh High Court has made it mandatory for anyone filing a case to appoint a local attorney. What would the future of law be like if it affected all high courts?
From Sujit Bhar
Vocal for Local is what Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said over and over again. It was about local production and local consumption. This is especially true for the service sector. However, this is not a new phenomenon. In a country as large and diverse as India, the needs are different and the supply for these needs must be adapted and localized. More importantly, given the financial crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and the severe economic downturn, there are many more reasons to be there.
Recently the Madhya Pradesh High Court showed the way with an interesting arrangement. In a first of its kind, the court has safeguarded the interests of local Hervey Bay lawyers by requiring everyone filing a case to appoint a local lawyer. In this case, it is not possible to file a case without the appointment of a local lawyer. If a lawsuit is filed without the appointment of a local attorney, it will be dismissed as incomplete. In order to remove the imperfection, it is necessary to invoke the Vakalatnama of a local lawyer.
Supreme Court Secretary and member of the Jabalpur Bar Association, Manish Tiwari, said that Chancellor General Rajendra Kumar Wani duly issued the order on the instructions of Chief Justice (acting) Sanjay Yadav. Previously, High Court Bar Association executive member Yash Soni had written a letter to the then Chief Justice as attorney representative requesting that a local attorney be appointed in connection with filing cases with the High Court.
The letter states that Section 3 of the 2008 High Court Rules provides that if the parties appoint an attorney from outside of Jabalpur, Indore or Gwalior, they must also appoint a local attorney. In the coronavirus pandemic, attorneys living outside the areas have filed cases through electronic filing and argued through video conferencing. This is in violation of Section 3 of the High Court Rules. This rule has been mandated to be followed.
Sudhir Nayak, President of the District Attorney’s Office, and Rajesh Tiwari, Secretary, welcomed the High Court’s decision. It was also stressed to take similar steps in relation to district courts. The idea is to fund local lawyers who are in dire straits because court work was suspended during the pandemic.
How will this affect the globalization process? According to international studies, globalization seems to have taken a step back, allowing local markets and talent to consolidate. What could the future look like after this process enters the legal world? Interestingly, this development has taken place in an ecosystem that allows cases to be handled remotely. The judges are in one place, different lawyers – even two lawyers for one plaintiff – are in different places, and even the peshkar or clerk is not actually present in the court. That was the process that was developed and improved every day with the advent of better technology.
Not only did this make the law easier to access, but it was also convenient for the police to avoid the problem of dragging a defendant to court every time the case surfaced. Documents were shared on the Internet, and the act of documenting and making legal “triple” harassment of copies was a thing of the past.
If we expand the local attorney theory a little, there will be multiple legal staff hired on-site prior to the pandemic that can be reached remotely from any source. This helped reduce litigation costs. There are individuals associated with the standard documentation of legal documents for research and libraries. What happens when the situation returns to normal? How many lawyers, accustomed to the convenience and ease of doing business from their own offices and home, would love to appear in court?
There is also the case of corporate advocacy boards. If the jury is in a different city, will the bodies need to hire another local lawyer and raise costs? Senior Advocate Harish Salve now lives mainly in London. He argues cases from there via videoconference. How would such lawyers behave? When the situation returns to normal, these on-site lawyers will remain linked to cases where other lawyers have acted. Your dismissal could lead to further litigation.
There are hurdles to overcome and problems to be addressed, but a start has been made and adjustments will follow. If this trend permeates all high courts and states, the change would be significant.
This will cause local talent to engage in greater numbers, and it will also help them develop and, depending on their ingenuity, jump to better dishes.
A system of checks and balances will be the order of the day, as will a system for assessing skills demonstrated. Additionally, the overall quality of the arguments and backroom research will improve when junior and local attorneys are given the opportunity to work with seniors from different states. Justice could be done faster and better.
Last, but not least, would be the local experience that will be available in tempering arguments. The credibility and status of a defendant would be better known to local lawyers. This helps.