Posts Tagged ‘Amicus Curiae’

A brief note on the legal Latin term ‘Amicus Curiae’, meaning ‘Friend of the Court’

Time and again welcomed by the Indian Courts, Amicus Curaie is a party or an organization, who is not a litigant in a particular case, but volunteers to offer information to assist a court in deciding a matter before it. The decision whether to admit the information, however, lies with the discretion of the court.

THE FORM OF INFORMATION

The friend of the court can file the information regarding a point of law or something else relevant to the case that they feel may help the court in the said ways:

  • A legal opinion in the form of a brief called Amicus Brief
  • A testimony that neither party solicited
  • A learned treatise on a matter that bears on the case

Amici Curiae that do not file briefs often present an academic perspective on the case. For example, if the law gives justice to a history of legislation of a certain topic, a historian may choose to evaluate the claim using their expertise. An economist, statistician, or sociologist may choose to do the same.

ORIGIN: ALL THE WAY BACK TO ROMAN LAW

Around the 9th century, British law incorporated Amicus Curiae which then had many other common law systems following suit. Later, it was introduced to the international law, with many cases concerning human rights calling on the term. With the most recent being the civil law systems, Argentina integrated the same.

AMICUS CURIAE IS NOT AN INTERVENER

An intervener is someone who has a direct interest in the outcome of the lawsuit.  While, the role of an Amicus Curiae as stated by Salmon LJ in Allen V Sir Alfred Mc Alpine & Sons Ltd. (1968) is as stated: “I had always understood that the role of an amicus curiae was to help the court by expounding the law impartially, or if one of the parties were unrepresented, by advancing the legal argument on his behalf.”
This often happens in an appellate court as well. They often argue based on factual data and information from lower courts. Many prominent cases see Amicus Curiae come from nonprofit groups that have a budget big enough to support a legal counsel.

FRIENDS OF THE INDIAN COURTS

India has been welcoming Amicus Curiae, especially in the cases that have involved major public interest. By doing so, the court is guided not only by the academic perspective required for the particular case, but also gets an understanding which would allow them to do justice in its entirety. The person who is usually allowed by the courts, in India, to act as Amicus Curiae is someone who represents the unbiased will and opinion of the society.
A perfect example is of the rather infamous BMW Case which had been in the news due to the fact that both the defense and the prosecution lawyers had been suspended by the Delhi High Court on charge of driving the witnesses to turn hostile. In the said case, Advocate Arvind Nigam who was appointed as the Amicus Curiae by the Delhi High Court played a crucial part in securing justice.
Apart from civil and public importance matters, if the accused is unrepresented, then, an advocate is appointed as Amicus Curiae by the Indian court to defend and argue the case of the accused.

SUBJECTED TO RULES

Unlike other friendships, this one is subjected to a certain set of rules and regulations. In order to be used in a court proceeding, an Amicus Brief needs to be provided in order to prove the facts that neither of the concerned parties have mentioned before the court. On the other hand, if it is felt that an Amicus Curiae Brief doesn’t bring new and helpful information, it’s considered to be a burden to the court and will not be used.

Read original article at: http://epaper.namoleague.com/EpaperArticle.aspx?title=Har%20Ek%20Friend%20Legal%20Hota%20Hai!_728

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