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Foreign Law Firms: Foreign lawyers cannot practice unless enrolled, fly in fly out permissible on foreign law, arbitration

Bar & Bench

The Madras High Court has announced its judgment in the writ petition filed against the entry of foreign law firms. The final arguments were concluded on February 1, 2012 and the judgment reserved.

Chief Justice M. Yusuf Eqbal has disposed of the writ petition with certain directions.

Some of these directions are listed below.

  • The High Court has held that foreign law firms and foreign lawyers cannot practice the profession of law in India either in litigation or non-litigation without first enrolling with the Bar Council of India under the Advocates Act.  However, foreign lawyers can “fly in and fly out” on a temporary basis to advise their clients on international law.
  • With regard to arbitration, the Court stated that foreign lawyers can come to India to attend and hold international commercial arbitrations.
  • Lastly, with regard to BPOs, the Court stated that running a BPO is not practicing the profession of law. BPOs are restricted to doing certain kind of work and if they are found to be doing something against the Advocates Act, the Bar Council of India will take action against them.

It appears that this judgment has put to rest several issues pertaining to the exact status of foreign lawyers and law firms in the country.

A copy of the judgment can be read below.

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