SC asks Bar Council for its stand on lawmakers practising as lawyers

Remigio Civitarese
Marzo 13, 2018

Bar Council of India and the Bombay High Court in Lawyers Collective v. BCI and Ors. with modifications, to hold that foreign law firms can not open offices in India. The ball has now been passed to the government's court in order to consider appropriate legislation in connection with allowing foreign lawyers to come into India.

In doing so, the top court upheld the Bombay and Madras high court judgments on the matter, but with certain modifications.

The court, while slating the hearing for April 23, asked for BCI's perception of the rules as the body's main function is to regulate the legal profession and legal education in the country.It is estimated that more than 500 lawmakers practise as lawyers.

They cited an American case in which it was deemed an unauthorised practice of the law for a Mexican lawyer in NY to advice on divorce proceedings in Mexico under Mexican law, legal news portal Live Law reported.

However, the bench headed by Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Uday Umesh Lalit said that foreign lawyers could come to the country and participate in global commercial arbitration. "In any case, foreign firms looking to enter India, whenever permitted, will look at local alliances to hit the ground running".

Interestingly, past year in January, the ministry of commerce and industry on January 3 amended a rule allowing foreign law firms to set up offices and advise clients from Indian Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

The court, however, allowed foreign lawyers to come to India on an advisory capacity, especially regarding worldwide law and global arbitration.

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