• Monday, March 27, 2023


England & Wales law society lauds India’s move to open up to foreign lawyers, calls it ‘historic’

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By: Shubham Ghosh

The Law Society of England and Wales has welcomed the move by the Bar Council of India (BCI), which regulates legal practices in the country, to publish regulations to allow foreign lawyers and law firms to practise in India.

Lubna Shuja, president of the society, said they were pleased to discuss the issue with the BCI and India’s law secretary recently.

“The Bar Council of India’s decision is a significant step forward in this long-standing issue and will create huge opportunities for solicitors and Indian advocates in both countries. It will also give a boost to India’s wider economic ambitions,” Shuja, the first Asian and Muslim president of the society, was quoted as saying in a release from the society, on Wednesday (15).

“We have long campaigned for this historic opening up of India’s legal services sector to foreign law firms. We thank the Bar Council of India and the Indian ministry of law and justice for our constructive and productive discussions on the issue, including during our visit to Delhi last week,” she added.

Shuja also said that the society looks towards “engaging further on the implementation of the regulations, based on reciprocity of access, and on further initiatives to foster collaboration, cooperation and joint practice between Indian advocates and solicitors”.

“England and Wales is open to practice by Indian lawyers and law firms, both for temporary practice and permanent establishment, and we are committed to ensuring it remains open,” she said.

The BCI, which had earlier opposed the move, on Monday (13) notified the Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022, the Indian Express newspaper reported on Wednesday.

“A foreign lawyer registered under rules shall be entitled to practice law in India in non-litigious matters only…,” the rules said, meaning that foreign lawyers and law firms can provide legal advice by registering with the BCI although they cannot appear in the courts.

“The foreign lawyers or foreign law firms shall not be permitted to appear before any courts, tribunals or other statutory or regulatory authorities. They shall be allowed to practice on transactional work /corporate work such as joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property matters, drafting of contracts and other related matters on reciprocal basis,” according to the notification.

The rules also said that the areas of practising law by a foreign lawyer or firm shall be laid down by the Indian body and “if need be, the Bar Council of India may consult the Govt. of India, Ministry of Law and Justice in this regard”.

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