The Bar Council of India (BCI) assured Indian lawyers on Sunday that foreign advocates and law firms will not be allowed to appear in any court or judicial forum and that they can only advise their clients about foreign laws and international laws.
The BCI assurance came after its recent decision to permit foreign lawyers and law firms to practise in certain areas evoked mixed reactions and created “some misgivings”.
Recently, the apex bar body took a significant decision to permit foreign lawyers and law firms to practise in areas such as foreign law, international legal issues and arbitration matters, saying that the legal fraternity here may be left behind if it sleeps over the matter.
The BCI decision to notify the Bar Council of India Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022 evoked mixed reactions from bar leaders.
“There are some misgivings in circulation about the recently published Gazette notification by BCI regarding entry of foreign lawyers and law firms in India. BCI, therefore, deems it appropriate to clarify the issue and place the following facts for the information of all advocates and the general public, so that there is no scope of any misapprehension or misinformation,” it said in a release.
“Foreign lawyers and law firms shall be allowed to advise their clients about foreign laws and international laws only,” the statement issued by Srimanto Sen, the BCI secretary, stated.
Foreign lawyers and law firms would render advisory work about such laws for their foreign clients only, it said, adding that they will be allowed to function in “non litigation areas only”.
“Foreign lawyers and law firms shall not be allowed to appear in any Court, Tribunal, Board, before any Statutory or Regulatory Authority or any forum legally entitled to take evidence on oath and/or having trappings of a court,” it said.
The entry of foreign lawyers would be on reciprocal basis only, it said, adding that they would be allowed to appear for their clients in international commercial arbitration.
“Experience and facts show that MNCs and foreign commercial entities, in case of International Commercial Arbitration, don’t prefer India as a venue of arbitration proceedings, because they are not allowed to bring lawyers and law firms from their own countries to advise them in International Commercial Arbitration Proceedings, thus, making them to prefer London, Singapore, Paris, etc. as the venue for arbitration proceedings,” the statement said.
The BCI rules will now encourage India being preferred as a venue for such international arbitration proceedings, thus helping India become a hub of international commercial arbitration, it said.
“The BCI stands committed to protect and safeguard interest and welfare of advocates in the country and requests the entire advocate fraternity to welcome these rules in national interest,” it said.
The BCI rules should not be misconstrued to allow any non-lawyer or any BPO or agent to come here and start practising in any field of law, the statement said.
Moreover reciprocity is the very essence of the rule, which may be kept in mind, it added.
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