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The legal maxim, ‘Amicus Curiae’ means a person who assists the court by furnishing information or advice regarding questions of law or fact. This article explains the meaning of the term along with its purpose with the help of case laws.
Origin and Meaning
The legal maxim Amicus Curiae is a Latin term by origin. Amicus means ‘friend’ and Curiae means ‘court’ and hence, the term amicus curiae literally means friend of the court.
Amicus curiae or friend of the Court is a person who assists, recommends, and advises the court on matters of legal importance.
Characteristics of Amicus Curiae are as follows,
- He/ she is a third person who is not a party to the suit.
- He/ she does not have any direct interest in the decision of the case law.
- His/ her opinion is unbiased and is in the favor of the society at large.
The court in certain cases finds it difficult to come to a conclusion and it is then that they invite amicus briefs from the experts in the subject matter of the case or certain people might offer to help voluntarily.
Amicus Curiae are someone who assists the court by offering expertise that has a bearing on the issues in the case. The decision as to whether to consider the Amicus briefs or not depends on the discretion of the court.
Important Case Laws
In the case of Allen v. Sir Alfred Mc. Alpine & Sons Ltd, Salmon LJ stated that the role of Amicus Curiae is to assist the court by expounding the law impartially or if any of the parties are unrepresented, representing and advancing the legal argument on behalf of that party. This is to ensure the accuracy of the decision and make sure that both parties are adequately represented.
In the case of Anokhilal v. State of Madhya Pradesh, the court laid down certain guidelines which are,
- In cases of life or death sentence, advocates with a minimum practice of 10 years at the Bar can be appointed as Amicus Curiae or can be appointed to represent the accused.
- Whenever an advocate is appointed as the Amicus Curiae, he/ she must be given some reasonable amount of time to understand the case scenario and prepare the matter.
- If the Amicus Curiae is representing the accused, he/she is approved to have meetings with the accused.
 (1968) 2 Q.B. 229.
 2019 SCC On Line SC 1637.
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