An advocate who represented a woman in an earlier divorce case has the right to represent her second husband against her in similar proceedings, ruled the Bombay High Court. The court made it categorically clear that in the event a lawyer should decide to do so, it can not be deemed that he or she switched sides in the “same proceedings”.
The verdict has brought relief for advocate Edith Dey, the lawyer who represented a Mumbai woman (name withheld to preserve her identity) in her first divorce case. Dey was later hired by the woman’s second husband in their ongoing divorce proceedings.
When the woman complained to the family court, it instructed the husband to recruit the services of another lawyer for the proceedings. However, a High Court bench comprising Justice Revati Mohite Dere quashed the earlier order issued by the family court.
Dey argued that the complainant challenged her representation of the husband in the current divorce proceeding and therefore, she was eligible to represent him in other matrimonial proceedings. The woman’s current lawyer on the other hand argued that Dey was legally obliged to maintain the woman’s confidentiality regardless of the case.
The High Court, while delivering its verdict, stated that the woman had not claimed that Dey was aware of any of her confidential information. It also observed that the family court had not considered the fact that the earlier divorce case (one in which the woman was represented by Dey) was eventually converted into a petition for mutually consensual divorce petition on the first hearing.