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The Bar Council of Delhi has directed the Big Four Accounting Firms – KPMG, Price Water House Coopers, Ernst & Young and Deloitte India to refrain from indulging in any practice which would amount to practising law until further orders.
The Bar Council has also directed them to give a list of all the advocates, who have been engaged by them, in any capacity, in any of their offices at any place.
The order was passed by the Delhi Bar Council in a complaint made by President of The Society of Indian Law Firms, Senior Advocate Lalit Bhasin. Bhasin has alleged that although all these firms are accounting firms, they are also engaged in law practice, which is not legally permissible.
While Chartered accountants are governed by the Chartered Accountants Act, legal practice is governed by the Advocates Act. Yet, the accounting firms have been encroaching into the domain of legal practice by offering non-litigation services, it has been argued. Such a practice of hiring law graduates to provide non-litigation legal solutions is in contravention of the Advocates Act. As per an Economic Times report, globally, the Big Four offer full-scale legal services in some geographies and ‘alternate legal services’ in others. In November 2018, an expert panel constituted by the ministry of corporate affairs had also recommended an amendment to the Advocates Act to allow audit firms to offer legal services.
The matter would be heard next by the Bar Council of Delhi on July 12, 2019.
Read the order: