The BCI notification seeks to allay the fears of Indian lawyers about whether the decision will hit them directly
Globalisation has finally knocked down one of the last standing desi citadels when the Bar Council of India (BCI) notified the Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022. The new rules, which have the backing of a 2018 Supreme Court order, allow foreign law firms to set up offices in India to practise transactional and corporate work on a reciprocal basis.
The rules bar foreign lawyers or foreign law firms from appearing before any courts, tribunals or other statutory or regulatory authorities but allow them to practise in areas which demand specific skill and knowledge sets and have trans-border nature such as joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property matters, drafting of contracts and other related matters.
The BCI notification seeks to allay the fears of Indian lawyers about whether the decision will hit them directly. The BCI has said it believes that the expertise of Indian lawyers more than matches that of their foreign counterparts and that further delay in allowing foreign lawyers at least in the restricted areas may leave the Indian legal fraternity behind. The BCI also hopes to make India a hub of international commercial arbitration.
The soundness of the legal system is one of the factors that attracts foreign investments to this country; and opening up the legal profession, albeit in a restricted but focused manner, is sure to make the lives of multinationals more easy and comfortable here.
The strong intellectual foundations on which India is built must give its professionals the confidence to compete with the best in the world and emerge victorious. The restrictive practices India had introduced in the immediate wake of independence might have forced the best and the brightest to leave Indian shores and shine overseas; they have no relevance anymore. The BCI move is a bold first step that will eventually make the legal profession truly global.