Entry of foreign law firms far from a done offer

5 ministries result from satisfy on 5 July with the Bar Council of India (BCI) and three lobby groups that have a stake in the matter of the entry of foreign law firms, Mint reported on 1 July.

The meeting has actually been contacted us to discuss whether BCI s long-anticipated draft guidelines to allow foreign attorneys to operate in India are suitable for the purpose. For more information log on to http://www.nycdivorcelawyer.com/.

The conference will also seek to resolve fundamental differences about how the procedure will work. One person familiar with the discussions even anticipated that the conference would be more about the federal government and Silf (among the lobbies, the Society of Indian Law Firms) addressing issues in the BCI draft.

All the legal representatives Legally India spoke with for this story asked not to be called.

Word on the street is that the government was looking for things being close to done and dusted around September, however even if the federal government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi are still major (having actually consistently gone on record to state that liberalization is a concern due to its viewed economic benefits), they’ll have a fragile balancing act ahead of them, and that deadline looks positive.

The stakeholders to convince continue to be the same.

Corporate lobby groups such as the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (Ficci) or the Indian Corporate Counsel Association (Icca), both of which have actually been invited to the 5 July conference, are not likely to have any demands, and their position on the concern is the same as the governments. Both bodies have in the past been content to advocate for the entry of foreign attorneys in India, hoping that this would increase competition and service levels, and minimize the dominance of a few large law firms.

A few of these large firms are opposed to the possibility of foreign competitors. Their interests are represented by their only genuine trade association, Silf.

Silf has consistently and vociferously opposed the entry of foreign law office.

As reported in Mint last year, Silf has altered its position under pressure from the government.

The final stakeholder while doing so is BCI itself, which has actually produced the draft that will be gone over at the 5 July conference.


Nominally, BCI is also expected to represent the bar and its legions of litigators, but in truth the power at the bar rests with the bar associations, as reported in Mint last year. BCI’s draft guidelines have actually expressly carved out saying in court from exactly what foreign lawyers will be permitted to do.

The bar is sitting in their own world therefore long as they don t get brand-new foreign lawyers coming in and arguing against them, they won’t object, said a partner at a law practice. That may be the case, however some lawyers state that BCI’s draft guidelines might have enough toxin tablets that may draw in the bar s ire, such as enabling foreign law practice to arbitrate for foreign companies in India.

And, provided the Bharatiya Janata Party-led federal government’s interest in enabling the entry of foreign law firms, it is most likely that the Congress celebration, which has a strong presence in bar associations, and even the Aam Aadmi Party will oppose the move, if just to hinder their rival.

Put otherwise, the meeting is not likely to be a straightforward affair.

The reason for the guidelines

The Bar Council of India Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers in India, 2016, seem pretty reasonable on first reading.

The preamble to the guidelines is the very first time that BCI has come out in full-throated support of liberalization. It claims liberalization will benefit both Indian and foreign legal representatives, and adds that the Indian attorney’s efficiency in law is equivalent with international standards.

If we sleep over the matter, the legal fraternity of India may be left, it said, promising that domestic attorneys would not likely suffer any downside in case law practice with the entry of foreigners in a well managed and controlled way on the concept of reciprocity.

The reciprocity question

Reciprocity has been the most ancient of keywords in the liberalization dispute.


The Advocates Act (section 29) states that only one class of individuals [is] entitled to practice the occupation of law, namely, supporters.

It also states that the only individuals who can become supporters in India are residents of India, or foreign nationals from countries that enable properly qualified people of India to practice law (area 24).

Surprisingly, BCI has nearly complete discretion to prescribe conditions, if any, under which foreign legal representatives might be confessed as Indian advocates (area 47), and enjoys wide rule-making powers under the Act.

Hence, even without any statutory change, BCI might unilaterally choose to open the market for foreign lawyers from tomorrow, if it so picked.

Its draft guidelines in impact produce a new class of supporters, specifically that of foreign lawyer.

One concern is whether this would be outside BCI’s powers under the Advocates Act, and it forms the basis of a legal difficulty if executed.

BCI might perhaps successfully safeguard itself in court by claiming that it has not in reality produced a new class of supporters of foreign lawyer, but just chose to confess a brand-new kind of lawyer as a normal supporter (as it is entitled to do) while restricting that brand-new lawyer’s capability to practice in courts and tribunals (which it likewise has some power to do under the Act).

Another potential difficulty could occur on constitutional grounds: the right to equivalent treatment prior to the law, for example, could be conjured up since BCI’s guidelines defining foreign legal representatives include law firms, limited liability partnerships (LLP’s), and business or corporations allowed to practice law abroad.

By contrast, Indian business is not permitted to practice law, and even LLP’s are in a grey area.

A partner at a law office said this could develop unpredictability. Any foreign company that follows BCI’s guidelines could discover itself stuck in a legal obstacle that lasts years, perhaps even longer.

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