He Indian Bar Association (BCI) Assured Indian lawyers on Sunday that foreign lawyers and law firms will not be allowed to appear in any court or judicial forum and that they will only be able to advise their clients on foreign law and international law.
BCI’s guarantee came after its recent decision to allow foreign lawyers and law firms to practice in certain areas sparked mixed reactions and created “some misgivings.”
Recently, the apex bar body made an important decision to allow foreign lawyers and law firms to practice in areas such as foreign law, international legal affairs and arbitration matters, saying that the legal fraternity here may be left behind by sleeping on the matter.
The ICC’s decision to notify the Indian Bar Association The Rules for the Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022 drew mixed reactions from bar leaders.
“There are some doubts in circulation regarding the Gazette notification recently published by BCI regarding the entry of foreign lawyers and law firms into India. Therefore, BCI deems it appropriate to clarify the matter and place the following facts for the information of all advocates and the general public, so there is no room for misunderstanding or misinformation, he said in a statement.
“Foreign lawyers and law firms will be allowed to advise their clients on foreign law and international law only,” said the statement issued by Srimanto Sen, BCI secretary.
Foreign lawyers and law firms will provide advisory work on such laws only for their foreign clients, he said, adding that they will only be allowed to function in areas other than litigation.
“Foreign lawyers and law firms shall not be permitted to appear in any court, tribunal, board, before any statutory or regulatory authority or in any legally authorized forum to present evidence under oath and/or in the regalia of a court,” said.
The entry of foreign lawyers would be reciprocal only, he said, adding that they would be allowed to appear for their clients in international commercial arbitration.
“Experience and facts show that multinational companies and foreign business entities, in the case of international commercial arbitration, do not prefer India as the venue for arbitration proceedings, because they are not allowed to bring lawyers and law firms from their own countries to advise them on international commercial arbitration proceedings, which makes them prefer London, Singapore, Paris, etc. as the venue for arbitration proceedings, according to the statement.
The BCI rules will now encourage India to be preferred as the venue for such international arbitration proceedings, thus helping India become a center for international commercial arbitration, he said.
The BCI is committed to protecting and safeguarding the interests and well-being of defenders in the country and calls on the entire defender fraternity to embrace these rules in the national interest, he said.
The BCI rules should not be misconstrued to allow anyone who is not a lawyer or any BPO or agent to come here and start practicing in any field of law, the statement said.
Furthermore, reciprocity is the very essence of the rule, which can be taken into account, he added.
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