Kerala HC amends norms for designation of ‘senior’ advocates

Kochi, Oct 28 , Complying with the Supreme Court’s directive, the Kerala High Court has made amendments to the norms for the designation of ‘senior’ advocates.

Following the revision, form now on, any advocate to be designated as a senior should be at least 45 years old. However, this can be changed by the Senior Advocate Designation Committee or the Chief Justice, or if a high court judge recommends the candidate.

Another change that has been made is that hitherto only advocates with at least 10 years of practice could become senior advocates, but now those with 10 years of combined experience as an advocate and as a district or sessions judge or as a judicial member of a tribunal in India with at least three years of post-retirement standing as an advocate can be designated as senior advocates.

Notably, the amended rules have clarified that a lawyer should be primarily working in the high court to be considered for being designated as a senior advocate. The revised norms also statethat the Full Court can suo motu designate any advocate as a senior advocate if it feels that he/she is a lawyer of exceptional quality and eminence and has special expertise in any field of law.

Further, the criterion of having high court practice experience may be relaxed for advocates having “domain expertise” on account of having practised before specialised tribunals, after considering the extent of their appearances in the high court.

The amended rules also make it clear that the Full Court can suo motu designate senior advocates, whereas the earlier rules only specified processes such as nomination by the Chief Justice or judges or recommendation by senior advocates apart from submitting applications.

Another notable change is the introduction of a point-based system to evaluate proposals for the designation of senior advocates which includes a maximum of 20 points for the years of practice, publications, besides 25 points for the interview.

Changes have also been made for applications to be reconsidered besides questions about interpreting or applying any of the rules will be decided by the Chief Justice, whose decision will be final.

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