Foreign lawyers, law firms allowed practice in India: Here is what they can and cannot do in India
Thursday 16 March 2023 7:56 AM UTC
NEW DELHI March 15: The Bar Council of India (BCI) has allowed foreign lawyers and law firms to practice foreign law in India on a reciprocity basis. The BCI came out with the bar Council of India Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India 2022 to enable international lawyers and arbitration practitioners to advise in India.
The rules state: “Time has come to take a call on the issue. Bar Council of India is of the view that opening up of law practice in India to foreign lawyers in the field of practice of foreign law; diverse international legal issues in nonlitigious matters and in international arbitration cases would go a long way in helping legal profession/domain grow in India to the benefit of lawyers in India too,” the BCI said.
The BCI made it clear that India is not likely to suffer any disadvantage if law practice is opened up to foreign lawyers in a restricted, well-controlled and regulated matter, according to a report in Bar and Bench.
“It would be mutually beneficial for lawyers from India and abroad and these Rules are an attempt by Bar Council of India in this direction. These rules will also help to address the concerns expressed about flow of Foreign Direct Investment in the country and making India a hub of International Commercial Arbitration…Let us ensure than an opportunity for creating development and growth for legal profession and in the legal sphere in India is not lost,” the BCI said.
The rules make it clear that a foreign lawyer or law firm shall not be entitled to practice law in India without registration with the BCI.
The prohibition will not apply to law practice by a foreign lawyer or foreign law firm on a fly in and fly out basis for the purpose of giving legal advise to a client in India on foreign law or international legal issues. However, in this case, the lawyer/firm cannot have an office in India, and their practice cannot exceed 60 days in any period of 12 months. The registration fee for a foreign lawyer is $25,000 and for a law firm, the fee is $5,0,000.
What work can foreign lawyers do in India:
Foreign lawyers and 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. They shall not be involved or permitted to do any work pertaining to conveyancing of property, title investigation or other similar work.
They may do work, transact business, give advice and opinions concerning the laws of the country of primary qualification.
They may provide legal advice and appear as a lawyer for a person, firm, company, corporation, trust, society etc which has an address in a foreign country in any international arbitration case which is conducted in India and in such arbitration case where foreign law may or may not be involved.
They may provide legal advice and appear as a lawyer before bodies other than courts, tribunals, boards, statutory authorities which are not legally entitled to take evidence on oath, in cases in which knowledge of foreign law of the country of primary qualification is essential.
They may provide legal advice concerning the laws of the country of primary qualification and on diverse international legal issues. This shall not include representation or the preparation of documents regarding procedures before an Indian court, tribunal or any other authority competent to record evidence on oath.
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