Supreme Court bars foreign firms from practicing law in India

Supreme Court bars foreign firms from practicing law in India

Disposing of a batch of appeals filed by Bar Council of India, a Bench of Justices A.K. Goel and Uday Lalit, however, held that there was no bar for the foreign law firms or foreign lawyers to visit India for a temporary period on a "fly in and fly out" basis for the goal of giving legal advice to their clients in India regarding foreign law or their own system of law and on diverse worldwide legal issues.

While the foreign firms had appealed against these orders, the Bar Council had challenged the Madras High Court's directive that foreign lawyers can "fly in and fly out" to tender legal advice on matters relating to global laws.

Foreign lawyers and law firms can not practice or open offices in India, the Supreme Court has held.

"A casual visit for giving advice may not be covered by the expression "practice", the bench of Justices A.K. Goel and U.U. Lalit said.

However, there is no limitation for them to visit India for a temporary period on a "fly-in and fly-out" basis for giving legal advice to their clients in India relating to the law which is applicable to their country.

More news: DeAndre Hunter: Will miss NCAA Tournament
More news: Jose Mourinho: 'Referee right not to send off Jurgen Klopp'
More news: Vikings offer Kirk Cousins 3-year, $86M deal

The court said that foreign lawyers could, however, come to the country and participate in global commercial arbitration but they have no "absolute right" to do so. Foreign law firms could carry on their liaison activities in India only in accordance with the Advocates Act, it had said.The Law Commission in its 266th report had also supported entry of foreign lawyers and law firms.

The Court has also asked BCI and the Central Government to frame necessary rules in this regard.

The court verdict came on pleas challenging the judgments pronounced by the Bombay and Madras High Courts. It had demanded, much like the Madras High Court, that these lawyers be enrolled as advocates (under the Advocates Act) to be able to prosecute court cases or practice law in litigious and non-litigious matters. "In any case, foreign firms looking to enter India, whenever permitted, will look at local alliances to hit the ground running". Foreign law firms have primarily worked on best-friend relationships with Indian law firms and may continue to do so now that specific directives have been issued.

"We do not find any merit in the contention that the Advocates Act does not deal with companies or firms and only individuals", the court said.

Related Articles