Law Council welcomes the Bar Council of India’s decision to allow foreign lawyers to practise in India
17 March 2023
All comments to be attributed to Law Council of Australia President, Mr Luke Murphy
The Law Council of Australia welcomes the mutually-beneficial decision of the Bar Council of India to allow foreign lawyers and foreign law firms to practise foreign law, international law, and in international arbitration matters, on a reciprocal basis.
Under the regulations gazetted this week, registered foreign lawyers and firms will be able to engage in transactional work in India such as joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property matters, drafting of contracts and other related matters.
This decision follows the significant 2018 ruling by the Supreme Court of India in Bar Council of India v. A.K. Balaji and Ors. [Civil Appeal Nos. 7875 – 7879 of 2015], which held that foreign practitioners and law firms would not be permitted to practise in India without appropriate rules being made by the Bar Council.
The Law Council has long advocated for a more open and reciprocal legal services market in India, and was the first legal professional body to enter into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the Bar Council of India in 2010.
The recent decision is reflective of the further MOU signed by the Law Council of Australia and the Bar Council of India in 2015, in which the Bar Council agreed to frame regulations to permit the practise of foreign law in India by Australian lawyers and firms on the basis of reciprocity, while reserving to Indian lawyers the right to conduct litigious matters under Indian law.
Indian lawyers may already come to Australia and, without registration, practise foreign law on a ‘fly-in, fly-out’ basis for a maximum period of 90 days in any 12-month period. They may also practise foreign law on a more permanent basis by registering as an Australian-registered foreign lawyer. Registration also enables foreign lawyers to establish a commercial presence and enter into commercial association with Australian lawyers.
The Law Council is considering the Bar Council’s new regulations in detail and looks forward to engaging with the Bar Council on their implementation.
The Law Council will also continue to engage with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade regarding legal professional service provisions in the Australia-India Comprehensive Economic Cooperation Agreement presently under negotiation.
Contact: Kristen Connell, P. 0400 054 227, E. firstname.lastname@example.org