Published on: 17 March 2023 at 14:52 IST
The Bar Council of India (BCI) has agreed to open up law practice in India to foreign lawyers, foreign law firms. The statutory body of lawyers has released rules for registration of foreign lawyers and foreign law firms in India. The latest rules enable foreign lawyers & foreign law firms to practice diverse international law, international arbitration in India.
These rules based on ‘principle of reciprocity in a well -defined, regulated and controlled manner’, the BCI said in the notification.
In a notification, the Bar Council of India said, “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“.
The apex body added that the move will not impact law practice in India if done in a restricted and well-controlled and regulated manner.
Bar Council of India was initially opposing entry of foreign lawyers and foreign law firms in India in any form. However, it was authorised by the legal fraternity of the Country in the years 2007-2014 in Joint Consultative Conferences between BCI, State Bar Councils across the country and other stakeholders to explore the potential and prospects of opening the law practice in India to foreign lawyers.
Registration of foreign lawyers or foreign law firms and eligibility criteria there for.:–
(1) A foreign lawyer or foreign law firm shall not be entitled to practice law in India unless he/it is registered with the Bar Council of India under these Rules:
Provided that this prohibition will not apply to law practice by a foreign lawyer or foreign law firm in case such practice is done on a ‘fly in and fly out basis’ for the purpose of giving legal advice to the client in India regarding foreign law and on diverse international legal issues and provided further that such expertise/advise of such a foreign lawyer or foreign law firm had been procured by the client in a foreign country and foreign lawyer or foreign law firm does not maintain an office in India for the purpose of such practice and lastly such practice in India for one or more periods does not, in aggregate, exceed 60 days in any period of 12 months.
(2) ‘Right to practice law’ in the concerned ‘foreign country of the primary qualification’ shall be the primary qualification for practicing law in India under these rules.
In the official Gazette of India, it is mentioned that,
“The Practice of Law by a Foreign Lawyer and/or Foreign Law Firm shall include the following arenas:-
- Doing work, transacting business, giving advice and opinion concerning the laws of the country of the primary qualification;
- Providing legal expertise/advise and appearing as a lawyer for a person, firm, company, corporation, trust, society etc. who/which is having an address or principal office or head office in a foreign country in any international arbitration case which is conducted in India and in such arbitration case “foreign law may or may not be involved;
- Providing legal expertise/advise and appearing as a lawyer for a person, firm, company, corporation, trust, society etc. who/which is having an address or principal office or head office in the foreign country of the primary qualification in proceedings before bodies other than Courts, Tribunals, Boards, statutory authorities who are not legally entitled to take evidence on oath, in which knowledge of foreign law of the country of the primary qualification is essential;
- Providing legal expertise/advise concerning the laws of the Country of primary qualification and on diverse international legal issues, provided that such legal expertise/advise, unless otherwise provided for in these Rules, shall not include representation or the preparation of documents regarding procedures before an Indian Court of Law, Tribunal or any other Authority competent to record evidence on oath or preparation of any documents, petitions etc. to be submitted to any such forum regarding such procedures.
- Provided that an Advocate enrolled with any State Bar Council in India and is a partner or Associate in any Foreign Law Firm registered in India under these rules and regulations, can take up only the non-litigious matters and can advise on issues relating to countries other than the Indian Laws only. Such Lawyer shall have no advantage / right of his being an Advocate enrolled in India.
The registered foreign lawyer or foreign Law Firm shall be entitled to do the following things in connection with the practice of law in India: –
- To open law office or offices in India for carrying on law practice in India as mentioned in
- Rule 8 of these Rules and subject to the condition that Bar Council of India shall be kept
- Informed of the particulars of such office/offices viz. postal address, name of the
- Owner/lessee of the property in which the office/offices are located and the documents
- Enabling and entitling him/it to occupy it.
- To engage and procure legal expertise/advise of one or more Indian Advocates Registered
- As foreign lawyers,
- To procure the legal expertise/advise of any Advocate enrolled with any State Bar Council
- In India on any subject relating to Indian Laws. But such registered foreign lawyer or
- Foreign Law Firm shall not be entitled to appear before any Indian Court, Tribunal or any
- Other statutory forum except for the maters mentioned under provision of Rule 8 of these
- To enter into Partnership with one or more Foreign Lawyers or Foreign Law Firm registered.
In India under these rules.
Registration Fees For Foreign Lawyers in India as Prescribed by Bar Council of India
- Registration fee in case of a foreign lawyer, if he is an individual: USD 25,000/- (USD Twenty-Five Thousand Only);
- Registration fee in case of a foreign lawyer, if it is a firm, private limited partnership, company, Limited Liability Partnership (LLP) etc.: USD 50, 000/- (USD Fifty Thousand Only);
- Renewal fee in case of a foreign lawyer: USD 10,000/- (USD Ten Thousand Only);
- Renewal fee in case of a foreign lawyer, if it is a firm, private limited partnership, company, Limited
- Liability Partnership (LLP) etc.: USD 20, 000/- (USD Twenty Thousand Only).
- The application for registration shall also be accompanied by Security Deposit as follows: –
- Security Deposit in case of a foreign lawyer, if he is an individual: USD 15,000/- (USD Fifteen Thousand Only);
- Guarantee amount in case of a foreign lawyer, if it is a firm, private limited partnership, company, limited liability partnership (LLP) etc.: USD 40,000/- (USD Forty Thousand Only).