How To Address a Magistrate?

The term “magistrate” has been derived from the French word “magistrat” which means “Civil Officers in charge of administrating laws” which also mean “A magistrate public machinery.” A Magistrate is a person who enforces laws within a limited jurisdiction. In other words, a magistrate is someone who enforces laws in a particular region or country.

A magistrate entertains both civil and criminal cases. He handles cases relating to petty theft, traffic violations and similar small crimes and gives the prescribed punishment for committing such offence.

Magistrates are of four types:

  1. A Chief Judicial Magistrate
  2. Judicial Magistrate of First Class and in any metropolitan area, metropolitan Magistrate
  3. Judicial Magistrate of Second Class and
  4. Executive Magistrates

The Judicial Magistrates entertain criminal cases. Judicial Magistrate of first class can pass a sentence for the imprisonment of person who has committed an offence for up to period of three years or fine of Rs 5000 whereas a judicial Magistrate of Second Class can pass a sentence of imprisonment of the person for a period of one year or fine up to Rs 3000.

Also Read – What are the Powers of Magistrate in India?

The duty of the Executive Magistrate is to determine the bail amount for the person who is arrested on the orders of the court which are located outside the local jurisdiction of the court so as to avoid police custody and it depends upon the terms and conditions of the warrant.

The Executive Magistrate has the power to pass an order for restraining persons from committing a particular act or to prevent any person from entering any area. But the power given to Executive Magistrate is restricted in the sense that he cannot try an accused person and cannot pass any order for or against them.

History of Magistrate

The post of District Magistrate was first created by Warren Hasting in the year 1772. The main duty of the District Magistrate is the inspection of general administration, to recover the land revenue and also to maintain law and order in the district. He also has the responsibility for the registration of land, settlement of disputes, divide the field, to give loan to farmers and drought relief. All other office-bearers of the district were subordinate to him and provided him with information about each activity of their respective departments. The work of the District Magistrate was also entrusted to them. Being a District Magistrate, he also inspects the police and subordinate courts of the district.[1]

The judge not only represents the authority of the court but also the law. This is why when a lawyer addresses the court, the judge is the centre of the attention. When a person approached the court he does it with the intention of getting his matter resolved and expects the court to deliver a fair and a speedier justice.

Therefore, certain manners and etiquettes need to be strictly followed in the court of law.

How to address a Magistrate?

The most important function associated with the lawyer while presenting his or her case is the “argument”. The term argument creates a vision of debate, the heat and fury of positions attacked and defended strongly, though with words.

In a legal manner, we usually use the word “submissions” before the court instead of argument as it signifies the way of putting things in a polite manner.

When we start our submissions before the Honourable Court by saying “May it please your Lordship” and then stop for a moment and wait for the Honourable Magistrate to say “Thank You”. This is usually done to seek permission from the Court to present the submissions. During the submissions to the Court it is the responsibility of the lawyer to punctuate every sentence with “My Lord”. Once the case is decided, and it goes in the favour of the client, then in such a case a lawyer say “Much obliged to your Lordship” or “Grateful to your Lordship” and if it goes against the client then the lawyer says “As your Lordship please.”

To conclude, these points must be kept in mind while presenting your submission to the Honourable Court:

  1. In a courtroom the magistrate should be addressed properly. He must be as “Sir/Madam” or “My Lord.”
  2. When lawyers present their arguments, raise any objection or question a witness in front of the Magistrate he need to stand up and then speak for the same.
  3. The Magistrate should not be intruded while he is speaking.
  4. If anyone disagrees with a Magistrate’s ruling on an objection or motion he should remain courteous.
  5. The lawyer should be polite while advancing their argument to the Magistrate. He should not be critical or offensive to anybody.

How to address the opposition lawyer?

We are not supposed to use language which is unparliamentary or which will show discourtesy to the Hon’ble Court or the opponent. That is why we always refer to the counsel on the other side as “Our learned friend.”[2]


Good manners and proper etiquettes will determine whether a person will win or lose in the court.




 This Article Written by Shreya Garg, Student of Gitarattan International Business School.

Law Corner

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