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India makes move to allow foreign lawyers

By Chloe Smith » After 20 years of stalled initiatives, India last week took a step towards allowing foreign lawyers to practise when a meeting between the profession and the government revealed ‘no objection in principle’ to draft rules on liberalising the market.

Rules drafted by the Bar Council of India (BCI) propose allowing foreign lawyers and law firms to open offices in India after registering with the BCI and paying fees of $25,000 (£18,850) for individuals and $50,000 for firms, according to a report by local publication Legally India.

The rules would allow foreign lawyers to do all non-Indian law transactional work, to hire Indian lawyers or to enter into partnership with Indian lawyers.

But they would prevent foreign lawyers from providing legal advice relating to courts, tribunals, boards or statutory authorities.

Representatives from the BCI, the Indian Corporate Counsel Association, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the Society of Indian Law Firms attended the meeting.

The Gazette understands that despite the progress made in the talks it is unlikely that the market will be liberalised this year.

Amarjit Singh, chief executive of consultancy India Business Group, told the Gazette: ‘What has happened in recent months is there has been a greater level of commitment by the Indian side. Legal services is now seen as playing an important role in facilitating the rapid economic growth in India.’

Last year the Bar Council of India dropped its longstanding opposition to liberalising its home market, paving the way for a memorandum of understanding drawn up with the Law Society and Bar Council of England and Wales.

[Courtesy: The Law Society Gazette]