Foreign law firms now able to practise in India

Out-Law News | 24 Mar 2023 | 1:25 pm | 1 min. read

Foreign lawyers and law firms are now permitted to practise foreign law in India.

Under new rules (24-page / 1.98MB PDF) published by the Bar Council of India (BCI), foreign lawyers and law firms can now set up offices, advise on non-litigious matters involving foreign law or international law and appear in international arbitration in the country “on the principle of reciprocity”.

Construction disputes expert Mohammed Talib of Pinsent Masons said: “This is an important development for those interested in investing in India, who may now be able to benefit from taking their usual choice of lawyers with them to support projects in India. It will also be especially beneficial to those who have contracts providing for international forms of dispute resolution, especially arbitration, for their Indian projects.”

Under the rules, foreign lawyers or law firms need to register with the BCI if they want to practice law in India. A foreign lawyer will not need to register with the BCI if they enter India on a ‘fly-in, fly-out’ basis to advise their clients on foreign law relevant issues, provided that they do not practice for over 60 days each year. ‘Fly-in, fly-out’ refers to a casual visit other than “amounting to practice”.

Under the rules, foreign law firms are allowed to set up offices in India. Firms must first obtain registration, which is valid for five years. They will be able to renew their registration within six months before it expires.

Under the rules, foreign lawyers or foreign law firms are not allowed to appear before any courts or statutory or regulatory authorities. However, they are allowed to practise on transactional work such as joint ventures, mergers and acquisition and other related matters on reciprocal basis.

The rules came into effect immediately on publication, on 10 March.

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