India court ruling bars foreign law firms from practice

India court ruling bars foreign law firms from practice
From Al Jazeera - March 14, 2018

New Delhi - India's top court has refused to allow the entry of foreign law firms wanting to practise law in Indian courts.

Foreign lawyers can only advise their clients in India on matters pertaining to foreign laws on a temporary "fly in, fly out basis".

"Fly in and fly out would cover a casual visit and not amount to practice," Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel was quoted as saying by Indian news media on Tuesday.

The court has directed the Bar Council of India and the Indian government to frame rules for foreign lawyers advising Indian clients.

Joseph Pookkatt, partner at APJ-SLG Law firm in New Delhi, said the ruling "essentially means that foreign lawyers cannot set up shop in India".

"The concept of 'fly in and fly out' means that in case foreign lawyers need to render legal advice to their clients in India, they can come to India, meet their client, render advice and then fly out without establishing any sort of permanent establishment in India," he told Al Jazeera.

"But only lawyers registered with the Bar Council of India and governed by the Advocates Act can practise law in India."

No 'carte blanche'

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has been averse to the idea of opening up the legal field to foreign players.

The BCI has said it does not want to give foreign arbitrators a free run in the country.

"They ca not have a carte blanche, do what they wish," CU Singh, a senior lawyer appearing for the BCI, had argued.

Rules for foreign lawyers


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