Services by Lawyers Will Not Fall under Consumer Protection Act: Supreme Court
Moneylife Digital Team 14 May 2024
The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that legal services rendered by lawyers will not fall under the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act and litigants cannot make claims of deficiency of service against advocates, says a report. The apex court also mentioned that its 1996 decision on medical negligence in the Indian Medical Association (IMA) vs Shanta needs to be reconsidered.
According to a report from Bar & Bench, the bench of justice Bela M Trivedi and justice Pankaj Mithal says that legal profession is sui generis (unique) and cannot be compared with any other profession and the relationship between advocate and client indicates unique attributes since the client has direct control over the advocate.
"Advocates have to respect the client's autonomy and are not entitled to make concessions without express instructions from the client and transgress authority. A considerable amount of direct control is with a client of advocate," the SC opined. 
Consequently, the bench says, services provided by lawyers would stand excluded from the ambit of the Consumer Protection Act. "This strengthens our opinion that contract is of personal service and is excluded from the definition of service under CPA." 
The 1996 landmark judgement held that medical professionals would be accountable under the Consumer Protection Act and that the definition of 'services' under the Act would cover the healthcare and medical sector.
"Very purpose of the Act was to protect consumers from unfair trade practices. Nothing to suggest that the legislature wanted to include professionals. Having said that, we have opined IMA vs Shanta decision needs to be revisited," the bench of justice Trivedi and justice Mithal says.
Hence, the bench says that the issue regarding the same should be placed before the chief justice of India is referred to a larger bench.
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