Indo-US legal ties get boost

Washington, Dec 29 | Updated: Dec 30 2006, 05:30am hrs
India and the United States have set up a working group to promote greater interaction among legal professionals and to facilitate trade in legal services between the two countries.

Announcing the formation of the group, which comprises legal experts from both countries, United States deputy trade representative Karan Bhatia emphasised that legal services were integral to todays complex economy.

Legal services are integral to todays complex, global economy. Indian commerce secretary Gopal Pillai and I agreed that establishing a legal services working group is a priority in our bilateral dialogue, Bhatia said.

Several American companies are already getting back office and research work carried out in India though lawyers from either country are not currently allowed to practise in the other. The United States has a substantial number of Indian American lawyers who have been pressing that they be given permission to argue cases in Indian courts.

The question is often raised during the visits of Indian ministers to the United States. The ministers generally lay stress on the issue of reciprocity, which, they concede, is a complex and difficult issue to resolve.

Bhatia and Pillai had decided on the formation of the working group during their meeting in New Delhi. During Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs visit to Washington, the constitution of such a group was identified to be a top priority.

The working group comprises representatives of law firms, the Bar Council of India and the American Bar Associations, and also includes leading legal professionals from both the countries.