Govt discussing opening up of legal sector to foreign firms

New Delhi, Feb 27: The Narendra Modi government has initiated discussions with the Bar Council of India for opening up the Indian legal sector to foreign law firms.

The UK and the United States have been pushing successive governments in the country to open up the legal sector to foreign firms but a decision in this regard could not be taken.


Earlier this week, Bar Council of India Chairman Manan Kumar Mishra held informal talks with Law Minister D V Sadananda Gowda in this regard. The government is of the view that the legal sector would be opened up to foreign law firms in a phased manner which would also help the Indian legal fraternity.

The view within the government is that once the foreign forms open offices in India, they would be hiring local legal brains to appear before courts. The Commerce Ministry is also keen on this step as it would help in the government's policy of 'ease of doing business' in India.

The government is of the view that offices of foreign legal firms in India will help government departments in hiring services of international legal experts in arbitration cases. Mishra said he has held informal talks with Gowda in this regard and they would meet again formally to discuss it. He said the issue of reciprocation is an important aspect.

The Advocates Act, which is administered by the BCI, provides for foreign lawyers or law firms to visit India on a reciprocatory basis for temporary periods to advise their clients on foreign law and diverse international legal issues. BCI functionaries would hold formal talks with Gowda and Law Secretary P K Malhotra in the coming days, Mishra said.


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