Mental Health Awareness Toolkits for Lawyers
Lawyers do not have a duty to diagnose or treat mental disorders, but they do have a duty to act in the best interest of their client and ensure they are treated fairly, in accordance with domestic law and international obligations.
Rule 156 of The Pakistan Legal Practitioners and Bar Council Rules, 1976 expressly mentions: “An advocate owes entire devotion to the interests of the client, warm zeal in the maintenance and defence of his rights and the exertion of his utmost learning and ability to the end that nothing be taken or be withheld from him save by rules of law legally applied. No fear of judicial disfavour or public unpopularity should restrain him from the full discharge of his duty. In the judicial forum the client is entitled to the bene‑t of any and every remedy and defence that is authorised by the law of the land, and he may expect his advocate to assert every such remedy or defence.”
In order to carry out this duty diligently, lawyers must assess their client’s competence and ‑tness to stand trial since it has an impact on every aspect of their case, criminal or civil.
It is therefore important that legal professionals understand the nature of mental illness and are aware of its signs and symptoms, so that they are able to respond appropriately.