Answer to Question #264789 in Law for Aish

Question #264789

Mr. reddy has been practicing As an advocate mostly in the courts at Visakhapatnam. After enrolling himself as a legal practitioner with the state bar council of Andhra Pradesh. According to him, he was appointed as legal advisor to Andhra Pradesh State cooperative Bank Ltd. In 2000 and the bank continued to retain him in that capacity e during the succeeding years. He was also engaged by the said Bank to conduct cases in which the bank was a party. However, the said retainership did not last long. On 17-7-2009 the bank terminated the retainership of Mr Reddy and requested him to return all the case files related to the bank. Instead of returning the files Mr Reddy forwarded a consolidated bill to the bank showing an amount of rupees 97900 as a balance payable by the bank towards the legal remuneration to which he is entitled. He Informed the bank that the files would be returned only after settling his dues. Can he legally retain the files? Justify your answer with the help of relevant case laws.

Expert's answer

Yes, Mr. Reddy can with hold the files as a leverage to get paid all the dues. Legally, lawyers may refuse to release documents or property until their invoice is paid. The property which may be subject to a “lien” can include title deeds, briefs of evidence, personal documents, files and other materials. However, Mr. Reddy cannot use wills or passports as they are government passports. 

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