The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that foreign law firms cannot open offices in India. The apex court upheld the Bombay and Madras High Court judgments with certain modifications in the matter.
A Bench headed by Justices AK Goel and UU Lalit observed that foreign lawyers can appear in International Commercial Arbitration subject to relevant institutional rules. Also, the court asked the Centre, Bar Council of India (BCI) to frame Rules in this regard.
Earlier, the BCI had moved the Supreme Court against a judgment passed by the Madras High Court in 2012. The high court had held that the foreign law firms or foreign lawyers cannot practice the profession of law in India either on litigation or non-litigation side unless they fulfil the requirement of the Advocates Act and the Bar Council of India Rules.
However, it had said that there was no bar either in the Act or the Rules for foreign law firms or foreign lawyers to visit India for a temporary period on a fly-in and fly-out basis, for the purpose of giving legal advice to their clients in India regarding foreign law or their own system of law and on diverse international legal issues.
(With agency inputs)