In the course of a court trial, it is possible though highly discouraged and frowned upon for a lawyer representing either the prosecution or defense to slight or disrespect an individual from the opposing counsel. This person may be the litigant, attorney, or witness. Such behavior is referred to as sharp practice.
It is the duty and obligation of each lawyer to treat any individual involved in a court case with utmost civility and fairness. Failing to do so in a consistent manner may lead the courts or the local bar association to sanction the lawyer or to subject such lawyer to disciplinary action. Examples of sharp practice are the use of misleading statements when referring to or in reply to the court or the opposing counsel, the breach of promises made or the denial of oral agreements, the use of threats or warnings, and generally the use of any trick or deed that is barely recognized as legal.
As noted in the examples, it is difficult to standardize the exact definition of sharp practice. However, it can be generally seen as professional bullying or using tactics that are considered as unethical, deceitful, or ill-mannered. It is absolutely important that the bar association or the court review the lawyer’s behavior and manner during a court hearing before they can establish the lawyer’s guilt in having committed sharp practice. This is because guilt of sharp practice may ruin the credibility and integrity of a lawyer, thus the lawyer would have difficulty in being solicited by others.