A significant step in making India a center for International Commercial Arbitration, the Bar Council of India (BCI) earlier in the year notified about the Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022, allowing foreign lawyers and law firms to practice in India.
“The Bar Council of India resolves to implement these Rules enabling foreign lawyers and foreign law firms to practice foreign law and diverse international law and international arbitration matters in India on the principle of reciprocity in a well-defined, regulated, and controlled manner,” said the BCI statement.
In recent years, the Indian Judiciary has undergone various reforms like launching an e-version of Supreme Court Reports, and translation of judgements in multiple regional languages, among others, to help the court be compatible with modern times.
Notably, the development can also increase the flow of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in the country. The legal fraternity in India is also not likely to suffer any disadvantage as the principle of reciprocity in the rules ensures that it would be mutually beneficial for lawyers in India and abroad.
In 2018, the Supreme Court in BCI vs. AK Balaji held that foreign law firms/companies or foreign lawyers cannot practice the profession of law in India, either on the litigation side or on the non-litigation side. It said that they can only give advice to Indian clients on ‘fly in and fly out’ mode on a temporary basis. However, the court also pointed out that foreign lawyers cannot be barred from coming to India to conduct arbitration proceedings in respect of disputes arising out of a contract relating to international commercial arbitration. In this regard, the court had also asked the BCI to make relevant rules.
What are the outcomes?
The decision will also be helpful in increasing global exposure for upcoming Indian lawyers as it facilitates foreign law firms hiring Indian lawyers. India’s global status will also get a boost, specifically in international trade and commerce. However, the actual outcomes of this announcement will unfold with time.