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SC upholds barring of foreign law firms from practicing in India

13 March 2018

Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel opined, "Fly in and fly out would cover a casual visit and not amount to practice".

The court also said that foreign lawyers could not be barred from coming to India to conduct arbitration proceedings in disputes involving worldwide commercial arbitration but they would be subject to the code of conduct applicable to the legal profession in India.

The ruling partially upheld a 2012 Madras High Court ruling that foreign law firms or foreign lawyers can not practise the profession of law in India either on the litigation or non-litigation side unless they fulfil the requirements of The Advocates Act, 1961 and the rules of The Bar Council of India (BCI).

The Supreme Court today issued notice to the Bar Council of India (BCI) in a petition seeking ban on MPs and MLAs from practicing law.

The court, however, allowed foreign lawyers to come to India on an advisory capacity, especially regarding worldwide law and global arbitration.

The court, while slating the hearing for April 23, asked for BCI's perception of the rules as the body's main function is to regulate the legal profession and legal education in the country.It is estimated that more than 500 lawmakers practise as lawyers. Such visibility is against the BCI rules. Indian law firms were also not allowed to operate from any of the SEZs. Before that, India did not permit multinational law firms to operate in the country. Last year's amendment was made by the commerce ministry, while whether to allow a foreign law firm in India is a purview of ministry of law and justice, said industry experts at the time.

The government has started discussions with the Bar Council of India and other.

Worldwide firms Ashurst, Chadbourne & Parke and White & Case have.

SC upholds barring of foreign law firms from practicing in India