Non Advocates without Accredition can not appear before Consumer Forums

 

Background – Demand by Advocates

Advocates have for long been resisting the appearance of non Advocates in Consumer cases.
As a result, the Rules of Allowing Appearance of Agents or representatives or Non-Advocates of Social organizations before the Consumer Forums have been introduced in 2014.

According to the new Consumer Protection (Procedure for Regulation of Allowing Appearance of Agents or representatives or Non-Advocates of Social organizations Before the Consumer Forum) Regulations 2014, any person who wants to appear before the consumer forums needs to be accredited by the Consumer Council.

Obtaining accreditation is an elaborate and  lengthy process involving the filing of  application, passing exams, undergoing training, followed by a personal interview.

 

Status of Old Consumer Activists

As a result of this new Regulation, many Consumer Activists  like Dr M S Kamat from the Consumer Guidance Society, Dr G N Shenoy, Jehangir Gai and several others, who have been appearing in various cases in different Consumer Forums for the past 15-20 years would now have to undergo this lengthy and cumbersome procedure.
Many of these activists have submitted their applications for accreditation,  but their applications are simply pending.

The Maharashtra State Consumer Commission has permitted all such person to appear in ongoing cases and obtain accredited till September 16, 2016, however barring them from filing any fresh cases.

No one will be allowed to appear if he does not obtain accreditation by September 16, 2016.

 

This Rule questioned in TATA Housing Case

This rule came into question in the case of the TATA housing ‘scam,’ when TATA Housing’s lawyer Pragati Mali objected that a representative of a few parties was a former employee with TATA and also not accredited to be appearing on behalf of the parties.

President of the Consumer Courts Advocate Association and the vice president urged the court to settle the matter. Antubhai Sheth has been disallowed from appearing in the case. He had claimed that he was working in an individual capacity for his wife, daughter-in-law and friends and was only a broker for TATA housing. However, the court had rejected his argument and documents showed that he was a sales associate.

Every time an activist appears, he has to file a declaration that he will not be getting any remuneration for appearing before the forum either directly or indirectly.


Individuals can continue to appear for relatives, neighbours and friends

This is however for those activists appearing on a regular basis, mainly representing consumer organisations, and not for those appearing on an individual case basis on behalf of their relative, neighbours, business associates or friends.

I am giving the link to the full text of the:

Consumer Protection (Procedure for Regulation of Allowing Appearance of Agents or representatives or Non-Advocates of Social organizations Before the Consumer Forum) Regulations 2014.

http://ncdrc.nic.in/Consumer%20Protection%20(non-adv)%20Regulation%202014.pdf

6 thoughts on “Non Advocates without Accredition can not appear before Consumer Forums

  1. The Rule did not come about as a result of the TATA case.

    It was introduced by the National Consumer Commission, New Delhi,
    in the form of :

    Consumer Protection (Procedure for Regulation of Allowing Appearance of Agents or representatives or Non-Advocates of Social organizations Before the Consumer Forum) Regulations 2014.

  2. Can you please let me know the order and judgement of Mah State Commission by which the implementation is stayed till 16/9/16 also the provision under which mandatory accreditation is not applicable to those who are related in some manner to the consumer viz relative, neighbor adviser, etc.?

    • Non-lawyer can appear for others

      Swati Deshpande TNN

      The Times of India, Sep 1, 2011

      Non-lawyers can appear for others under CPA: SC

      Mumbai: The Supreme Court has ruled that non-lawyers can represent, appear and argue cases filed under the Consumer Protection Act before consumer district forums and commissions.

      The SC passed the directive while dismissing an eightyear-old appeal filed by the Bar Council of India against a 2002 Bombay high court judgment that permitted agents to represent consumers. The SC bench of Justice Dalveer Bhandari, Justice R Mukundakam Sharma and Justice Anil Dave on Monday, however, said guidelines were needed and accordingly, it directed the National Consumer Commission to “frame comprehensive rules within three months” to regulate the eligibility, ethics and conduct of non-legal representatives. Agents can be friends or relatives but they cannot accept any remuneration and must display competency.

      Before concluding that the HC judgment required no interference, the apex court considered American, English and Australian laws that permitted similar non-legal representation in certain areas before quasi-judicial bodies or subordinate courts.

      In India, rules framed in 1986 under the Consumer Protection Act permit authorized agents to represent parties. The SC noted that the National Commission has rightly placed “reasonable restrictions” on such rights to rule out misuse of liberty by any person or organization for “ulterior motive” or “to make a profession out of it”.

      But with even lawyers against it, the issue over “authorized agents” has not been decided for over a decade. In 2000, in a complaint against two tour operators in Mumbai for alleged deficiency in service at the South Mumbai District Consumer Forum, the operators demanded that non-advocates should not be allowed to represent consumers. The forum agreed and held that the authorized representative had no right to plead as he was not enrolled as an advocate.

      But in an earlier complaint in 1997, the consumer forum held that authorized agents did have a right to act, appear and argue complaints filed by consumers. The matter thus went to the state consumer commission that stayed the hearing of matters in which authorized agents appeared before the Consumer Forum.

      The commission’s order was challenged before the Bombay HC that held that litigants before consumer forums “cannot be compelled to engage advocates” as they were quasi-judicial bodies. The consumer law is meant to be a swift and inexpensive remedy for consumers at the receiving end of poor service, unfair trade practice or faulty goods.

  3. Consumer Protection (Procedure for Regulation of Allowing Appearance of Agents or representatives or Non-Advocates of Social organizations Before the Consumer Forum) Regulations 2014.

    3. Appearance by agent, non-advocate, representative or social organisations:—
    (1) A party may authorise an Agent or non-advocate or representative or social organisations to represent him
    before the Consumer Forum in an individual complaint case / appeal or revision, subject to production of duly
    authenticated authorisation made by the party in favour of such Agent or non-advocate or representative or
    social organisation, subject to the conditions that he, –
    (a) is appearing on an individual case basis;
    (b) has a pre-existing relationship with the complainant(such as: a relative, neighbour, business associate
    or personal friend);
    (c) is not receiving any form of, direct or indirect, remuneration for appearing before the Consumer
    Forum and files a written declaration to that effect;
    (d) demonstrates to the presiding officer of the Consumer Forum that he is competent to represent the
    party.
    (2) Every Agent or

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