The Bar Council of India(BCI) has allowed foreign lawyers and law firms to practice foreign law and diverse international law and international arbitration matters in India.
The council said, “Taking an all-inclusive view, the Bar Council of India resolves to implement rules enabling the foreign lawyers and Foreign Law Firms to practice foreign law and diverse international law and international arbitration matters in India on the principle of reciprocity in a well defined, regulated and controlled manner.” In order to meet the objectives, the Bar Council of India has framed the Bar Council of India Rules for registration of foreign lawyers and foreign Law Firms in India, 2021 under its rule-making powers under clauses (d), (e), (ic), (1) and (m) of sub-section (1) of section 7 and clauses (ah), (ag), (c), (e) and (h) of sub-section (1) of section 49 read with sections 24, 29 and 47 of the Advocates Act, 1961 and under all other enabling provisions.
Bar Council of India is of the view that opening up a law practice in India to foreign lawyers in the field of practice of foreign law; diverse international legal issues in non-litigious matters and in international arbitration cases would go a long way in helping the legal profession/ domain grow in India to the benefit of lawyers in India too, the council said.
Bar Council of India stated that the standards of Indian lawyers in proficiency in law are comparable with the international standards and the legal fraternity in India is not likely to suffer any disadvantage in case law practice in India is opened up to foreign lawyers in a restricted and well-controlled and regulated manner on the principle of reciprocity as it would be mutually beneficial for lawyers from India and abroad and these Rules are an attempt by the Bar Council of India in this direction.
These rules will also help to address the concerns expressed about the flow of Foreign Direct Investment in the country and making India a hub of International Commercial Arbitration. In case, we sleep over the matter, the legal fraternity of India may be left behind in providing legal/professional expertise in accordance with the rule of law in a manner consistent with the best interests of this fast-growing class of clients in India, it said.
Let us ensure that an opportunity for creating development and growth for the legal profession and in the legal sphere in India is not lost, stated BCI.
Many countries have already allowed foreign lawyers to practice foreign law and diverse international legal issues and arbitration matters in their countries in restricted fields with specific and prescribed conditions, BCI notification said.
Further, the notification stated, “It is also to be noted that the Bar Council of India is keen to progress on the idea of an MoU between the Bar Council of India, the Government of India (through Ministry of Law and Justice ) on one part and the Law Society of England and Wales, Government of U.K., Bar Council of England and Wales, on the other.”
“The U.K. Delegates have also assured the Bar Council of India that the Authorities in the U.K. are also keen and interested in the means of collaboration, cooperation and joint practice between Indian advocates and UK lawyers,” added the notification.
Moreover, having regard to the aim and object of the International Commercial Arbitration introduced in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, foreign lawyers cannot be debarred to come to India and conduct arbitration proceedings in respect of disputes arising out of a contract relating to international commercial arbitration, stated BCI.
The opinion of the Bar Council of India the legal profession in India has to rise to the occasion to meet the global changes in the Legal Arena caused by the migration of people from one country to another on such a large scale that had not been witnessed in earlier days. The world is becoming a global village. International trade and commerce are advancing at a great pace. The demand for an open, responsive and receptive legal professional dispensation mechanism in India from clients/public who operate in international and cross-country business is becoming severe day by day. Growth in the international legal work sphere and globalization of legal practice and internationalization of the law is increasingly becoming relevant to the
growth of the legal profession and practices in India.
On this development, Rajesh Narain Gupta, Managing Partner of SNG and Partners, said
“Entry of foreign law firms will change the landscape for law firms in India. This would overall support in a big way the ambition of India to be more visible and valuable in a global context, especially in international trade and commerce.”
“This will be a game changer for mid-size firms and will also help the law firm in India to achieve more efficiency in talent management, International Arbitration technology, domain knowledge in a global context, and management,” Gupta added.