Entry of Foreign Law Firms in India

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Opening of Indian Legal Market Indian National Bar Association presented it’s comments along with detailed report to the Law Secretary Ministry of Law & Justices in the meeting held on 30th August, 2016, New Delhi. The report has been jointly prepared by Hammurabi & Solomon, and Medhaadvisors based on the comments recent from various stakeholders. The Hon’ble Law Secretary has fixed next meetings of all stakeholders to give presentation on September 29, 2016.

Indian National Bar Association’s delegation also met Shri Sudhanshu Pandey, JS, Ministry of Commerce and presented it’s comments along with detailed report in the meeting held on 30th August, 2016, New Delhi.
BCI had come out with draft Rules for Registration & Regulation of Foreign Lawyers in India under the provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961. At a meeting held on 5th July 2016, the Union Law Ministry had sought inputs from stake-holders on the said draft Rules.

The report submits that ‘Ease of Doing Business’ by entrepreneurs in India should be at the centre-stage of reforms in the legal services sector in inda. With India targetting a $5 trillion GDP in the next 5-7 years, the reforms in legal services sector has to keep pace with the requirements of stakeholders in the development and growth of India.

The reforms envisaged in the said draft rules impact a multitude of stakeholders including Indian and foregn companies, emerging class of Indian entrepreneurs under numerous initiatives of the government requiring high quality and competitively prices, domestic & foreign legal advise, large law firms, emerging law firms, boutique law firms, small law firms, Law Schools,Interns & Students , ADR & mediation Professionals and General Counsels. Each and most of these stakeholderrs are impacted differently by the said reforms. Therefore, the said reforms would need to drive the growth of all the above stakeholders.

India must emerge as the legal services capital to the world in the Asian and African region. The reforms should therefore enable the best quality of legal support be available at the very doorstep of entrepreneurs and professionals doing business in india and in the region.

The report examines the global best practices followed in other jurisdictions including United States of America, UK, Singapore, Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, Japan, Russia, China, Malaysia and Indonesia.

The report recommends the entry of foreign lawyers/law firms in a phased manner with indicative timelines as follows:

  • The first phase would be to allow foreign lawyers to practice in the areas covered in the Draft BCI Rules within this year.
  • The second phase would be bringing about internal reforms in various applicable laws such as the Advocates Act,1961 and Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008 which would in turn allow more partners to be part of the firm, removing restrictions on advertising and initiating reforms in the education sector is necessary to ensure availability of a good talent pool in legal profession.
  • Last Phase can be policy changes as necessary for expansion of the practice of foreign firms by allowing foreign lawyers to practice law in India including by forming joint ventures (JVs) and in Collaboration with Indian Lawyers. To come up with rules and policies to regulate the foreign lawyers and keep a check on their activity and to set up a disciplinary body to keep a tab on foreign lawyers as well.

INBA’s is also inviting to comments/suggestions from the various holders including students, law firms, lawyers, industry etc…

Report Submitted on draft BCI rules for registration & regulation of foreign lawyers in India, 2016

Submitted By – Kaviraj Singh
Secretary General
Indian National Bar Association

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