Mumbai, March 20
The Bar Council of India (BCI), which issued a notification on foreign law firms in India last week, has said it was committed to protect and safeguard the interests of advocates in the country.
In a clarification issued on Sunday, the council said that foreign lawyers and law firms in the country will be allowed to advise its clients about foreign and international laws and function in non-litigation areas only. They would render advisory work about such laws for their foreign clients only.
Foreign lawyers and law firms will not be allowed to appear in any court, tribunal, board, before any statutory or regulatory authority or any forum legally entitled to take evidence on oath and/or having the trappings of a court.
The entry of foreign lawyers would be on a reciprocal basis only. So, only lawyers of countries where Indian lawyers are permitted to practice would be permitted.
Foreign lawyers would be allowed to appear for their clients in International Commercial Arbitration, which could encourage India being preferred as a venue for such proceedings.
The Supreme Court on March 13, 2018, in BCI versus AK Balaji & Ors, had wanted the BCI or the government to frame rules about the entry of foreign lawyers and law firms.
Accordingly, BCI last week issued a notification allowing foreign lawyers and law firms to practice foreign law and international arbitration in India in non-litigious matters on the principle of reciprocity.
According to the notification issued last week, foreign lawyers or firms will be allowed to practice on transactional or corporate work such as joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions and intellectual property matters on a reciprocal basis.
While the foreign lawyers and law firms will not be subject to disciplinary proceedings by the Bar Council, their registration can be cancelled under these rules in case of substantive misconduct.