This article was written by Shalaka Srivastva a student of Lloyd Law College.
Foreign Law firms to practice in India Freely?
Firstly, we will have to know about the foreign law firms. What law a firm actually is? A law firm is a business entity which is formed by one or more than one lawyers to engage in the practice of law. A group of minds of people’s who are ready to serve the solutions regarding the problems of the individuals. The primary service rendered by a law firm is to advise clients about their legal rights and responsibities and to represent clients in civil or criminal cases, while business transactions, and various other matters in which legal advice and other assistance are sought. According to above definition of law firm, the same meaning explains the foreign law firms, every law firm has the capacity and a rule to maintain the firm with the responsibility over the clients who is national or international, does not matters but their basic principle to serve the people who are suffering. Generally. The bar councils are the only remaining speed in the government who are liberalizing legal services, and the law ministry secretary is responsible for implementing the entry of foreign law firms in India. From the new beginning the new Indian government has with the idea of pro-liberalization lawyers of the ministries of law and finance in India. India has most and the third largest GDP as per mentioned in the well purchasing power parity Index and with the source of new government having a clear reformist approach across industry sectors, there has been substantial and meaningful movement towards clarity in the legal sector as well. The various indications are that with the proposal that will contain a phased-entry strategy for the uplifting of foreign law firms, which will began with progressive reforms of strengthening Indian law firms and a system of the gradual entry of international law firms in the field of non-litigious areas for practice in both places. Over the past decade, Indian firms have established and a very much grown in both financial and manpower numbers. The frequent ups and downs in the market, international expansion of Indian corporations, and introduction of new practice area such as cyber law, competition law etc., and a mix source of fragmentation as well as consolidation of law firms have helped the whole Indian legal profession to grow the strength and learn from its experiences. While the world eyes India, a host of Indian firms have opened offices in places like London, Palo Alto, Geneva, Dubai, Singapore and Tokyo, as part of their own plans to go whole global.
On the other hand, a petition filed by Bar Council of India (BCI) challenging a Madras High Court has given the order to permit foreign lawyers to visit India temporarily on a “fly0in fly-out” basis for giving legal advice to their clients for the purpose of giving a flow way on diverse international legal issues and the Supreme Court directed the Reserve Bank of India not to permit law firms from abroad to open liaison offices in the country, a bench of Justice R M Lodha and A R Dave restrained foreign lawyers from engaging the general method of legal practice in India for them, either direct or indirect. After hearing and looking over the view on the quotation of BCI counsel, for ruling against it, the bench ordered, “that it is clarified, Reserve bank of India shall not grant any permission for them, and foreign law firms to open liaison offices in India under Section 229 of the Foreign Exchange Regulation Act, 1973. It is also specified and cleared that the expression is ‘to practice the profession of law’ under Section 129 of the advocates Act, 1961 covers the persons practicing on the matters of litigious matters as well as non-litigious matters which is other than contemplated in Para 63 (ii) of the impugned order and, therefore, to practice in those non-litigious matters, the foreign law firms by their own names or otherwise with whatever name called or may be described, shall be bound to follow the most of these provisions which contained in the Advocates Act, 1961.
“In the absence of main criteria of any other rules which are related to the rule of reciprocity or the process of unwillingness of foreign lawyers and for their placement and also for them to enroll themselves under the Advocates Act, it is not about only violation of the Act but also for their practice which is specifically illegal since they would not come under the purview for the purpose of the disciplinary power of or may be as the regulatory body in India.” By this statement The BCI said according to their view. And also further stated that, “if they not enrolled under the Advocates Act, most of the professional conduct according to them of these foreign lawyers and foreign law firms will go unchecked as per mentioned that there will be no disciplinary authority which exercise control over them with a due regard.”
According to the view of president of (Silf) Society of Indian Law Firms, Lalit bhasin, has been one of the most consistent, most visible and hard-line opponents of the entries of foreign law firms which started to come into India.
In history, as other government, it is very clear that one side is seriously interested in opening up the legal market as soon as in its best way. But the real question asked is that whether it will be powerful package which determined the field and sensitive enough to see the actual reform through the areas, which create the areas despite the thicket of vested interests that, has been successfully resisted in its perfect distance for all change to date.
Is this justified to not to allow Foreign Lawyers / Foreign Law firms to practice in India. If yes Why? If Not, why?
Yes, it is well justified that to allow foreign lawyers and foreign law firms to practice in India, because it is very necessary step for the India and also for the other countries who are ready to participate in the activities where a relation is maintained by both the sides as well as a good conduct for the future aspects. India is now a very well settled for the matter of litigation; lots of scopes are here in the field of law. Today’s youth are the biggest source that if they want than they can a new world for this field. So, why not give them a one chance to explore their knowledge at the highest pick, let them give a wide field where they can increase as well as enhance their ability of work and same reason is for the foreign lawyers & foreign law firms too.
There is an ongoing battle being fought on the major issue of liberalization of legal service sector which in a growing economy. India is on the top brink of opening its doors to and for foreign firms to apply in India. Both international and local firms have a lot at stake in India, and in the same view the path to foreign entry in India is proving to be harder than expected. Whatever may be the ultimate decision of the Government, we believe in the market and also that in an upcoming economy like India, there can be plenty of work for everyone and everywhere with a great pleasure of work. The choice will depend on the tremendous need of foreign law firms including the size of the average Indian foreign acquisition with the ultimate process. Only when the Bar Council finally stands to one side and allows with full deregulations will India’s legal market, not for just in its economy.
We believe on balance that the public interest would from the entry of foreign lawyers subject to appropriate safeguards of course. In the view in taken into consideration by the Ministry of law and justice in allowing the entry of foreign firms into the market, Indian legal services sector is ready to practice law in India. A sufficient safeguard to this effect would be, to formulate rules that allow practicing the law of their jurisdiction. Indian lawyers are generally competent and can deliver quality work. We are positive that an Indian lawyer is not being scared to face the competition and once the government decides to open its door. In our opinion it is only a fair and with the interest of reciprocity in that foreign firms are allowed to practice in India. And along with the entry of foreign firms would go a long way to enhance the level of competence in legal professionals in India. There are over a hundred international firms have increased their focus on the basic of India in the recent past. Even without the source of liberalization, evidently there are opportunities well within the legal framework that explain these foreign law firms find profitable according to their view.
The following are some aspects that international firms those who are already or looking to enter India- should consider in light of India’s current environment:-
Strategies: – the most important factor is to reduce “ad-hocism”. Having a plan in place with a long-term vision is imperative. There are lots of pros and cons into the various ways that international firms plan in strategy, including best-friend relationships, referral arrangements, India desks and outsourcing.
Understand India better: – As mentioned, the world’s largest cultural mix, India’s diversity is often very difficult even for us, Indians to completely understand. They have to need to account for this diversity, learning key words in different languages, including simple steps wishing and understanding the food and other local preferences.
Show that you are: – A sure-shot way for gaining accessibility in any new country is to cater to the society. Firms can look at offering lectures to law students, taking up initiatives and knocking up with NGOs.
Invest in India: – showing that India is the home country and serious about India. This could make and include making some India-specific collaterals and knowledge kits, increasing in India related famous journals and legal forums, amongst all the other activities.
In with or without liberalization, one thing is for sure: there are some exciting times ahead for the Indian legal industry. Some of the thoughts will help international firms make the most of their foray which applies into India, while with staying well within the stipulated legal framework.
These are the various obstacles and also justifiable factors that present in India for foreign lawyers and foreign law firms to practice in India.