• Thursday, June 01, 2023


Indian bar council says foreign lawyers will not be allowed to appear in courts

By: Kimberly Rodrigues

On Sunday (19), the Bar Council of India (BCI) clarified that foreign lawyers and law firms will not be permitted to represent clients in Indian courts or any judicial forums. Instead, they can only offer advice on foreign and international laws.

This clarification comes in response to mixed reactions and concerns raised following the BCI’s recent decision to allow foreign lawyers and law firms to practice in certain areas.

The BCI made a significant decision recently to allow foreign lawyers and law firms to practice in areas like foreign law, international legal issues, and arbitration matters.

BCI expressed concern that the legal fraternity in India could be left behind if it fails to act on this matter.

However, this decision caused mixed reactions from bar leaders, prompting the BCI to notify the BCI Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022.

According to a statement issued by BCI secretary Srimanto Sen, foreign lawyers and law firms will only be allowed to advise their clients about foreign and international laws.

They will be restricted to non-litigation areas and cannot appear in any court, tribunal, or regulatory authority. Additionally, they cannot appear before any forum entitled to take evidence on oath or with trappings of a court.

The BCI stated that foreign lawyers will only be permitted on a reciprocal basis, and they can appear for their clients in international commercial arbitration.

The statement explained that MNCs and foreign commercial entities tend to prefer other countries such as London, Singapore, and Paris for arbitration proceedings due to the lack of permission to bring their own lawyers to advise them in India.

However, with the new rules, India is likely to become a hub of international commercial arbitration and a preferred venue for such proceedings.

The statement also said that the BCI urges the entire advocate fraternity to welcome these rules in national interest, as the BCI stands committed to protecting and safeguarding the interest and welfare of advocates in the country.

It also clarified that the rules do not allow non-lawyers or BPOs or agents to start practicing law in any field. Reciprocity is a key element of the rules and should be kept in mind, the statement added.

(With inputs from PTI)


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