It is not the best of times, definitely may be worst of times for all of us. When we talk of professionals, categorically who are self employed, it is the lawyers who stand alone at receiving end. Even in this crisis, most of the lawyers are working remotely to activate their post pandemic response plans and some of them are fighting hard to maintain their livelihood. Its harsh to say that situation like this may bring fortune to one and opportunity lost to other. So will be the case is with lawyers. The slight legal insight and professional foresight may become a business edifice for them. The warriors of justice should be equipped for far bitter war to face post lockdown on front of both pragmatically and legal intellect front. The professional responsibility of lawyers increases to help common man fight against injustice done by employers, contractors and institutions.
Similarly, violators of Epidemic Act enforced during lockdown will be requiring the legal assistance and representation in courts of law. The Constitution has granted Fundamental Rights to every citizen of India and in some cases gone on to the extent to protect the right of every person in the country. The rising PIL and SLP reveal that every person is now legally aware of his rights and is ready to move to the high court or superior courts at slight infringement or even apprehension of infringement of rights. The crisis of lockdown will certainly invoke the restitution of fundamental rights through these powerful tools of justice. The right to movement, right to practice any trade and profession had been jeopardized during the lockdown.
The emerging issue of payment of school fees between parents and school administration, migrant workers crisis has exposed the undercurrent of structural economic imbalance leading to invoke Indian legal system. The paradox is that workers or parents are not moving the court due to complaints against working condition or teaching facilities respectively, but due to external conditions propelling the invocation of legal system.
The crisis management teams of lawyers should be assessing how best to serve their patrons who are grappling with their own business operations and the well-being of employees. Working under enormous pressure in unprecedented conditions will be a revolution for them and revelation for the society too. How should a lawyer ethically respond to the coronavirus crisis? Do higher standards of professional conduct apply when a disaster strikes? Does ethical obligations are just meant for lawyers or litigants and clients should share some responsibility? The casual approach needs to be shunned by the in order to revive the business of justice. We have to make it a two way health concern for both litigant and lawyers so that we are protected to become a contagion.
Well before the pandemic outbreak, person to person client-lawyer communications had largely been in common but post pandemic outbreak the change of communication style is need of time. The role of advocates post pandemic era can be divided into two parts viz professionally and practically. If the lawyer’s physical health materially impairs his or her ability to represent clients, the lawyer must seek to withdraw from the representation and take all reasonably practical steps to avoid foreseeable prejudice to the client’s rights, including giving reasonable notice to the client, allowing time for employment of other counsel, delivering to the client all papers and property to which the client is entitled, promptly refunding any unearned part of an advance fee, and complying with applicable laws and rules.
Many lawyers still do not deliberately access the technological tools which will keep them safe from being contagion. If we look into lawyer client relation most of the client are from lower middle class or middle class who themselves are abeyant to these technological tools. The awareness initiative has to be taken from the lawyer itself. Courts are getting digital but bar needs to join hand with bench in this initiative. The lawyer will have to make an extra effort to make client follow the rules of physical distancing without compromising professional values.
While the full impact of the Covid-19 outbreak on businesses is not clear at the moment, and the outbreak is likely to spread in the coming days, this is an issue which is seemingly becoming critical by the passing week. The working of the courts needs a massive behavioural change perceiving the discourse of Covid impact on the entrepreneurship. The overcrowding of litigants and petitioners needs to be controlled with equal importance of adopting the minimum health protocol given by state authorities need to be followed.