Lawyer cannot claim a share in the fruits of litigation: Jammu and Kashmir High Court

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The High Court of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh recently observed that it would be professional misconduct if a lawyer were to demand that a client pay a part of the rewards secured in a litigation case towards client fees [Munni vs. Presiding Officer Motor Accident Claim Tribunal Kathua].

Justice Sanjay Dhar was dealing with a case where a litigant claimed that her lawyer had been demanding a portion of compensation awarded to her in a case as professional fees.

“The counsel cannot claim any share out of the fruits of litigants from his/her client as fee and if at all such a thing has happened, it is a case of professional misconduct on the part of the counsel. Such like conduct is not expected of a person belonging to legal profession,” the judge said.

Justice Sanjay Dhar
The litigant had told the High Court that she had been awarded ₹13.5 lakhs as compensation by a Lok Adalat in September 2023, which was then deposited with a Motor Accidents Claims Tribunal (MACT) at Kathua. This amount was supposed to be released to the litigant.

However, she further submitted that the lawyer engaged by her was demanding a certain percentage of this compensation amount as a fee and that a dispute ensued consequently between the two.

The litigant averred that due to this dispute between her and her counsel, the MACT was not releasing the deposited compensation amount in her favour.

The Court took a serious view of these allegations.

“If on account of a dispute between the claimant and her counsel regarding professional fee, the Tribunal is not releasing the amount deposited pursuant to the award of the Lok Adalat in favour of the rightful claimants, the same is highly objectionable. A court or a Tribual is not expected to become a party to the dispute about counsel fee between a litigant and his lawyer,” the Court said.

The Court proceeded to order the MACT to release the compensation amount to the rightful claimant immediately once she approaches the tribunal for it.

Advocate Gagan Oswal appeared on behalf for the aggrieved litigant (petitioner/ claimant) before the High Court.

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