The government has actually set the ball rolling to liberalize legal services, and allow entry of foreign law office in India. In a meeting chaired by secretary, ministry of law and justice, on Tuesday, there was in-principal arrangement amongst various stakeholders that consisted of representatives of The Bar Council of India, the legal fraternity, and the sector, on the relocation to open up legal services. However, there are distinctions amongst stakeholders on certain procedural problems to enable foreign law office to provide services in the country.
Last week, The Bar Council of India (the regulator of country’s legal services) flowed amongst its members the draft rules for foreign law firms and lawyers to practice in India even you can consult them for your fraud recovery . These included the terms for registration with The Bar Council that permits them to offer non-litigation legal opinion in non-Indian laws, in association with Indian law firms.
However, the draft guidelines drew in criticism from Society of Indian Law Firms (Silf) that has much big- and mid-sized law office as its members. The lobby group has actually been advocating a phased entry for foreign law firms and attorneys, spread over five to 7 years. “The draft guidelines do not show our position,” stated Lalit Bhasin, president, Silf.
An Indian law firm or lawyer is not allowed to publicize his or her services, but that is not the case with foreign companies, he stated. There are concerns around ownership structure of foreign law firms.
However, many foreign law practices are registered as business, or as Limited Liability Partnership (LLP’s). “The draft guidelines in their present type might encourage surrogate practice by foreign law practice in India,” said Bhasin.
Numerous in the legal fraternity feel that the federal government may have to amend the Advocates Act, 1961 that just allows an Indian citizen to practice law in the country.
A market representative, who attended the conference, invited the entry of foreign law firms to offer opinion on foreign law. The Ministry of Law & Justice has asked all the stakeholders to give a comprehensive discussion on their views in a meeting to be held first week of August.