In a decision having far-reaching consequences, the Bar Council of India (BCI), which regulates the legal profession in the country, has decided to allow foreign lawyers and law firms to practise in India in areas such as foreign law, international legal issues and arbitration matters on a reciprocal basis.
The decision will be mutually beneficial for lawyers from India and abroad, said the BCI, which has notified the ‘Bar Council of India Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022’.
“Time has come to take a call on the issue. The Bar Council of India is of the view that opening up of law practice in India to foreign lawyers in the field of practice of foreign law; diverse international legal issues in non-litigious matters and in international arbitration cases would go a long way in helping legal profession/ domain grow in India to the benefit of lawyers in India too,” stated the objects and reasons of the Rules.
“These rules will also help to address the concerns expressed about flow of foreign direct investment in the country and making India a hub of international commercial arbitration…. Let us ensure than an opportunity for creating development and growth for legal profession and in the legal sphere in India is not lost,” said the apex Bar body.
Noting that a foreign lawyer or law firm shall not be entitled to practise law in India without registration with the BCI, it said the prohibition would 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.