The Union Law Ministry has passed on to the Bar Council of India, a letter written by Japan inviting Indian Lawyers and Law Firms to practice Indian laws on its shores. BCI is now studying the proposal to determine the extent of reciprocity on the offer.
"Yes, Japan has written to us. We are taking the issue of opening up our legal sector on a positive note, but on the condition that it will increase the face-value of our lawyers globally and there will be a mutual exchange of lawyers, law firms," Law Minister V. Sadananda Gowda was quoted as saying.
Manan Kumar Mishra, BCI Chairperson elaborated saying, “The Law Minister asked us to frame a rule on the 'factum of reciprocity' in the Advocates Act. This simply means that we should first examine the extent to which individual foreign countries are opening up to Indian lawyers and firms and then reciprocate exactly to the same extent.”
The BCI has already advised the Law Ministry that the legal sector should only be opened up in a “phased manner” to foreign law firms. Mr. Mishra said, “The government may be under several pressures to open up, but we are an independent body. The Indian legal practice rides on the BCI's shoulders.”
There already exists a Memorandum of Understanding with Australia on the opening up of a legal centre and Bar Council of India has been in talks with the American Bar and the Law Society of England. A delegation of the BCI will be visiting Australia in April-May in this regard.
The BCI Chairman stated, “We will be framing this rule of reciprocity after carefully examining the situation for lawyers in each country. For example, if they create a hurdle, like a test which is very difficult to crack, we will also do the same here for their lawyers looking to practice here.”
The Commerce Ministry is looking out for this sector to be opened up, in order to promote government's 'Make in India' policy.