From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :
Prelims level : Bar Council
Mains level : Foreign legal professionals in India
Central Idea: The Bar Council of India (BCI) has opened up law practice in India to foreign lawyers and law firms. It has framed the ‘Bar Council of India Rules for Registration of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2021’.
About Bar Council of India (BCI)
The functions of the Bar Council are to:
Why such move?
- The BCI notification also stated that the Rules would help to address the concerns expressed about the flow of Foreign Direct Investment into the country.
- The Rules would also help make India a hub for international commercial arbitration.
Move to benefit Indian lawyers
- The rules enable foreign lawyers and law firms to “practice foreign law, diverse international law and international arbitration matters in India on the principle of reciprocity in a well-defined, regulated and controlled manner”.
- The BCI said that the move would benefit Indian lawyers, whose standards of proficiency in law are comparable with international standards.
- The legal fraternity in India is not likely to suffer any disadvantage since the move would be mutually beneficial for lawyers from India and abroad.
How foreign lawyers can begin operating in India?
- The Rules prescribe that foreign lawyers and firms would not be entitled to practice law in India without registration with the BCI.
- Foreign lawyers and law firms are not allowed to practice Indian law in any form or before any court of law, tribunal, board or any other authority legally entitled to record evidence on oath.
- However, the restriction does not apply to law practice by a foreign lawyer or foreign law firm on a ‘fly in and fly out basis’ for the purpose of giving legal advice to a client in India on foreign law or international legal issues.
- In such a case, the lawyer or firm cannot have an office in India, and their practice cannot exceed 60 days in any 12-month period.
Requirements for foreign lawyers and firms
A primary qualification required from foreign lawyers and firms is-
- Certificate from the competent authority of their country that they are entitled to practice law in that country.
- Undertaking that they shall not practice Indian law in any form or before any court of law, tribunal, board or any other authority legally entitled to record evidence on oath.
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