'Foreign Lawyers Entry' Rules Should Be Welcomed In 'National Interest', It Won't Affect Advocates Practicing In India: BCI
Regarding its recent decision to permit foreign lawyers and law firms to practice foreign law in India on a reciprocity basis, the Bar Council Of India today issued a press release putting out some clarification in an attempt to put to rest certain 'misapprehension' and 'misinformation' surrounding the same.
It has categorically stated that the rules allowing foreign lawyers entry into India would function in a very restricted sphere and this decision is not going to impact the Advocates practicing in India.
The press release adds that the rules have been framed against the backdrop of the Supreme Court ruling in the case of BCI v. AK Balaji, wherein the SC had given liberty to the Union Govt and the BCI to frame rules in this regard.
Significantly, clarifying that it stands committed to protecting and safeguarding the interest and welfare of Advocates in the Country, the BCI has requested the entire Advocate fraternity to welcome these rules in National Interest.
It may be recalled that on March 13, the BCI notified the Bar Council of India Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022, throwing open the gates of law practice in India for foreign lawyers and firms.
However, noticing that certain misgivings are in circulation regarding the Gazzete notification, the BCI, today, made clear the following points:
- Foreign lawyers and Law Firms shall be allowed to advise their clients about Foreign laws and International laws only.
- They would render advisory work about such laws for their foreign clients only.
- Foreign lawyers and law firms shall be allowed to function in non-litigation areas only.
- Foreign lawyers and law firms shall not be allowed to appear in any Court, Tribunal, Board, before any Statutory or Regulatory Authority or any forum legally entitled to take evidence on oath and/or having trappings of a court.
- Entry of foreign lawyers would be on a reciprocal basis only i.e. lawyers of only those countries would be permitted in India, where Indian lawyers are also permitted to practice.
- Foreign lawyers would be allowed to appear for their clients in International Commercial Arbitration.
- Rules should not be misconstrued to allow any nonlawyer or any BPO/ etc. any agent, to come to India and start practising in any sphere, and/or under any trading style, if in pith and substance, it amounts to practise of law as held in A.K.Balaji & Ors. Moreover, reciprocity is the very essence of the Rule, which may be kept in mind.
Importantly, the BCI has also asserted that the rules will enable India to be preferred as a venue for such International Arbitration Proceedings, thus, helping India become a hub of International Commercial Arbitration.
"Experience and facts show that MNCs and foreign commercial A entities, in case of International Commercial Arbitration, don't prefer India as a venue of Arbitration Proceedings, because they are not allowed to bring lawyers and law firms from their own countries to advise them in International Commercial Arbitration Proceedings, thus, making them to prefer London, Singapore, Paris etc. as the venue for Arbitration Proceedings. BCI's rules will, now, encourage India being preferred as a venue for such International Arbitration Proceedings, thus, helping India become a hub of International Commercial Arbitration," the press release states.