SC upholds barring of foreign law firms from practicing in India

SC rules No practising no setting up office foreign lawyers can come to India only in an advisory capacity

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The court ruled that foreign law firms can fly in and fly out of the country to render legal advice, but they can't be allowed to set up permanent offices in the country.

The top court's ruling had come on an appeal by the Bar Council of India (BCI) against the judgment of the Madras high court.

The apex court also said BCI has the powers to frame rules and regulate the conduct of foreign lawyers and that rules may be framed keeping these directions in mind. However, the Court has allowed foreign lawyers to advise clients in India on a casual, temporary "fly in fly out" basis.

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They cited an American case in which it was deemed an unauthorised practice of the law for a Mexican lawyer in NY to advice on divorce proceedings in Mexico under Mexican law, legal news portal Live Law reported.

Also in line with predictions, and in a welcome fillip to the Modi regime, the bench passed the ball to the government, asking it and the Bar Council of India (BCI) to come up with rules governing foreign lawyers' entry.

However, it has permitted foreign la firms to participate in arbitration proceedings.

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Due to a phenomenal increase in global arbitrations involving foreign litigants, foreign law firms and lawyers have started appearing in many legal proceedings in India.

For example, it allowed foreign law firms to give legal advice to their clients on foreign laws.

Ajay Shaw, partner, DSK Legal, said: "This judgment will not have any bearing on Indian law firms at this stage".

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