SC seeks reply from stakeholders on foreign law firms’ India presence

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New Delhi | Published: April 7, 2015 12:02:18 AM

Six years after the Bombay High Court refused to allow foreign law firms to open liaison offices in India, the Supreme Court on Monday...

Six years after the Bombay High Court refused to allow foreign law firms to open liaison offices in India, the Supreme Court on Monday sought reply from various stakeholders on a fresh appeal  by Global Indian Lawyer alleging that such blanket restrictions on foreign law firms are erroneous and misconceived.

A bench headed by Justice AR Dave issued notice on the petition and posted the matter for further hearing on July 20.

Global Indian Lawyer (GIL), a society formed with the intention of promoting the global growth of the legal fraternity, has challenged the Bombay HC’s December 16, 2009 order that held that to practise the profession of law in India, a foreign law firm has to fulfill the qualification of being enrolled as advocates under the Advocates Act, 1961.

It told the apex court that the most effective methods to enable Indian qualified lawyers to have international exposure is the entry of foreign law firms into India. “…the HC erroneously places a qualification on foreign firms to register as advocates under the Advocates Act, when there is no such restriction under the Act or under the Bar Council of India Rules to prohibit a foreign law firm from establishing an office in India,” GIL said in its petition.

However, the Bar Council of India (BCI), the top body which regulates the legal practice in the country, has opposed any move to allow foreign firms in India. It argued that foreign lawyers cannot be allowed even to chip in for seminars and conferences.

The BCI has claimed that the legal practice would also include participation in seminars and conferences.

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