The Advocates (Practice & Etiquette) Rules, 1988 (hereinafter referred to as “the said Rules”) is referred, especially the following Rules:
Rule 45(1): Advocate not to advertise
An advocate shall not solicit work or advertise either directly or indirectly, whether by circular, advertisements, touts, personal communications, interviews not warranted by personal relations, furnishing or inspiring newspaper comments or procuring his photographs to be published in connection with cases in which he has been engaged or concerned.
Rule 46: No personal advertisement
An advocate shall not do or cause or allow to be done anything with the primary motive of personal advertisement, or anything calculated to suggest that it is so motivated.
Rule 48: Advocate not to publish photographs
An advocate shall not take steps to procure the publication of his photographs as a member of the legal profession in the press or any periodical.
Rule 49: Advocate not to solicit reporting
It is contrary to etiquette for an advocate to solicit the reporting of any matter in which he has been professionally engaged, but he may consider and revise reports or cases in which he has been professionally engaged so as to ensure the correctness of the Report.
Advocates Association of Sarawak (“AAS”) views with grave concern on the rampant publication of Advocates’ photos and narration of their cases in newspapers as well as the widespread postings on social media such as Facebook regarding trials and cases that the Advocates had handled or are involved with. AAS views this as a form of advertising which is not acceptable under the said Rules.
The manners in which the photographs are published, such as giving thumbs up and posing for cameras with clients, show that these photographs had been taken for purposes of publications in newspapers and / or social media. In many circumstances, those photographs are usually identified with the Advocates’ respective names and the nature of cases the Advocates are or were engaged in. Not only the publications in the newspapers and / or social media, it is also very rampant that Advocates cause to make postings of their photographs and details of cases in social media such as Facebook.
It had also come to the attention of AAS that there are Advocates who specifically notify the press on selected cases. The press had then appeared in Court and / or police station to cover and take photographs of Advocates with clients. Advocates then give a briefing to the press on the nature of the cases and outcomes of the same. These acts by Advocates may be calculated as Advocates taking steps to solicit works by advertising in newspapers and /or social media through publication of Advocates’ photographs and narration of cases they handled.
For your information, our Chief Judge of Sabah and Sarawak had expressed concerns over these actions by the Advocates and has instructed AAS to look into this matter and to take the necessary steps thereof.
In the premises, AAS wishes to warn all Advocates that they are to refrain from publishing their photographs and names in the newspaper and/or social media whether directly or indirectly. Advocates are also to refrain from posting photos and case details on their social media.
If any publications or postings appearing to be in breach of The Advocates (Practice & Etiquette) Rules, 1988 come to the attention of AAS without any complaint letter, AAS on its own initiate will issue a show cause letter will to the Advocate concerned to provide explanation on the publication and/or posting. If the Advocate’s explanation is not acceptable to AAS Central Body, the Advocate will be referred to the Inquiry Committee without any further reference to the Advocate concerned, and thereupon the Inquiry Committee shall act in accordance with the provisions of the Advocates (Inquiry Committee) Rules, 1988.
We sincerely hope that this correspondence will serve as a timely reminder to all Advocates.