UK Minister's Suggestion Discounted

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New Delhi, May 7 (UNI) A British Justice Minister's suggestion to liberalise Indian legal sector to let British law firms bring in specialised expertise and services was questioned by a law group in India this evening.

The objections were voiced by a spokesman for a society of Indian law firms announcing a two day conference on: Should India open its legal services sector? India's organised Bar-- such as the Bar Councils and Associations-- is by and large opposed to the entry of foreign lawyers, including those from the United Kingdom, Society spokesman Lalit Bhasin told journalists.

He said the subject would be in focus at a two day conference-- May 9-10-- on the New Business Laws of India, sponsored by a three year old International Indian Bar Association of lawyers of Indian origin the world over, to which the Society is a co-sponsor.

A statement on the occasion said a ''potential influx'' of foreign lawyers could impart ''commercial, even mercenary approach'' to the law business in India.

Replying to questions, Bhasin said pressure was repeatedly built from British quarters to open up Indian legal sector to foreign lawyers.

At one point there was a suggestion that opening up the legal sector was part of the World Trade Organisation requirement-- subsequently acknowledged by the Comnmerce Ministry not to be so.

A report from Kolkata said British Minister of Justice Bridget Prentice spoke of 200 foreign legal firms already working in Britain and that she discussed the matter with India's Law and Justice Minister Hans Raj Bhardwaj and found the Indian government supportive.

She said British firms could provide highly specialised services and expertise in growing demand since India's entry into the WTO.

Bhasin said the issue of whether or not India opened its legal sector domestic, vitally and intrinsically linked with the system of India's administration of justice.

He said the legal profession was very much a part of the administration of justice and wondered if what applied to lawyers might some day apply to judges.

He discounted the visiting Minister's suggestion that Indian lawyers might need help with complex commercial issues, and countered that by such a logic if it is felt that judges are not proficient in a given subject then ''do we also invite judges'' from abroad ? UNI MJ RR DB2039

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