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Kerala High Court Amends Rules for Senior Advocate Designation

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Published on: October 29, 2023 at 11:49 IST

The Kerala High Court has revised the High Court of Kerala (Designation of Senior Advocates) Rules, 2018, to align with the Supreme Court of India’s judgment in Indira Jaising v. Supreme Court of India.

One significant change in the amended rules is the introduction of a minimum age requirement, stating that advocates must be at least 45 years old to qualify for the title of senior advocate.

However, exceptions to this age criterion can be made by the Senior Advocate Designations Committee, the Chief Justice, or upon a recommendation by a High Court Judge.

The eligibility criteria for senior advocate designation have also been expanded. Previously, candidates needed a minimum of 10 years of practice as an advocate. The new rules now permit candidates with 10 years of combined experience as an advocate and as a district and sessions judge or as a judicial member of an Indian tribunal, with at least 3 years of post-retirement standing as an advocate.

Additionally, the amended rules specify that a lawyer must primarily work in the High Court to be considered for senior advocate designation. This is a departure from the 2018 Rules, which allowed the High Court to designate any lawyer based on skill, reputation, or legal expertise, without specifying their practice location.

Under the amended rules, the Full Court can designate an advocate as a senior advocate if they are deemed a lawyer of exceptional quality and eminence with special expertise in a specific area of law. For advocates with domain expertise, who have practiced before specialized tribunals, the High Court practice requirement may be relaxed based on their appearances in the High Court.

Furthermore, the amended rules introduce a point-based system to evaluate senior advocate designation proposals, taking into account factors such as the number of years of practice as an advocate, judgments, pro bono work, domain expertise, publication of academic articles, teaching experience in law, guest lectures in law schools, and personality and suitability through interviews.

The composition of the Senior Designations Committee has been specified as the Chief Justice of the High Court as Chairperson, the two senior-most judges of the High Court, the Advocate General for Kerala, and a Bar member nominated by the Chairperson and other members.

Changes have also been made to the reconsideration process for senior advocate designations. In the past, proposals rejected by the Full Court could only be reconsidered after two years.

The amended rules clarify that such reconsideration may occur through an application following the current procedure, and proposals deferred by the Full Court can be reconsidered after one year.

A new rule, Rule 19, states that any questions regarding the interpretation or application of the rules will be decided by the Chief Justice, whose decision will be final, and the Chief Justice can issue necessary directions to address arising issues.

Also Read: Designations of Advocates in Courts