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Bar Council of India issues cease and desist notices to online platforms for violating legal advertising rules

It has sent desist notice to Quikr India, Sulekha.com, Just Dial and Grotal.com, addressing the solicitation of legal services on these platforms.

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has instructed all State Bar Councils to take strict disciplinary actions against advocates found advertising or seeking work through online portals, which is a direct violation of the Bar Council of India Rules, as reported by The Hindu.

This directive follows a July 3 judgment by the Madras High Court, which emphasised that the legal profession is a noble service to society rather than a profit-driven business. The judgment scrutinised the practices of online platforms offering lawyer services and found them in violation of the BCI Rules.

HC reaffirmed that under Rule 36 of the BCI Rules, advocates are prohibited from advertising or soliciting work, either directly or indirectly. It stated that marketing lawyers "brings down the nobility and integrity of the profession."

It concluded that the involvement of online intermediaries in facilitating lawyer services breaches professional conduct standards. In response, the BCI has issued cease and desist notices to major online service providers, including Quikr India, Sulekha.com, Just Dial, and Grotal.com, addressing the illegal advertising and solicitation of legal services on these platforms.

The online platforms have been directed to remove all listings, profiles, and advertisements related to legal practices by advocates immediately, and no later than four weeks from the date of the notice. They have also been instructed to cease any operations that enable the advertisement or solicitation of legal practice by advocates.

“All portals, online platforms, and advocates found in violation of Rule 36 of the Bar Council of India Rules are hereby issued a public notice to ensure strict compliance with these Rules immediately. Any advertisements contravening the aforementioned Rule must be withdrawn forthwith,” the BCI reiterated in the press statement.

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