Bar Council of India permits foreign law firms lawyers to practice in India on principle of reciprocity

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Foreign lawyers and law firms will now be able to practice in India in a restricted, regulated and controlled manner, and on the principle of reciprocity that will be mutually beneficial for lawyers from India, the Bar Council of India (BCI) said.

As per the new rule, Bar Council of India Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022, will enable international lawyers and arbitration practitioners to advise in India. However, foreign lawyers and law firms will be entitled to practice only in non-litigious matters.

Foreign law, arbitration matters, and international legal issues are the three areas which have been opened for them.

“It is noteworthy that the standards of Indian lawyers in proficiency in law is comparable with the international standards and the legal fraternity in India is not likely to suffer any disadvantage in case law practice in India is opened up to foreign lawyers in a restricted and well controlled and regulated manner on the principle of reciprocity as it would be mutually beneficial for lawyers from India and abroad and these Rules are an attempt by Bar Council of India in this direction,” BCI said.

Foreign lawyers or firms would not be able to practice in India without registration with the BCI, and the registration fee for a foreign lawyer is $25,000, and for a law firm it is $50,000.

“The registration done under rule 7 shall be valid for a period of 5 (five) years only and the foreign lawyer and/or Law Firm would be required to renew it by filing an application for renewal in Form B within six months before the date on which such validity expires,” said the BCI.

“These rules will also help to address the concerns expressed about flow of Foreign Direct Investment in the country and making India a hub of International Commercial Arbitration. In case, we sleep over the matter, the legal fraternity of India may be left behind in providing legal/professional expertise in accordance to the rule of law in a manner consistent with the best interests of this fast growing class of clients in India. Let us ensure that an opportunity for creating development and growth for legal profession and in the legal sphere in India is not lost.”

“Providing legal expertise/advise and appearing as a lawyer for a person, firm, company, corporation, trust, society etc. who/which is having an address or principal office or head office in the foreign country of the primary qualification in proceedings before bodies other than Courts, Tribunals, Boards, statutory authorities who are not legally entitled to take evidence on oath, in which knowledge of foreign law of the country of the primary qualification is essential,” it said on the practice of law by a foreign lawyer and/or foreign law firm.

(With inputs from IANS)

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