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Foreign Law Firms, Lawyers Can't Practise in India, Says Supreme Court

Shutting the doors on their prospects to have offices in India, a bench of Justices Adarsh K Goel and Uday U Lalit maintained that the Advocate Act and other pertinent statutes debar foreign law firms from practising in India.

Utkarsh Anand | CNN-News18

Updated:March 13, 2018, 11:11 AM IST
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Foreign Law Firms, Lawyers Can't Practise in India, Says Supreme Court
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New Delhi: Foreign law firms and foreign lawyers cannot practise in India, ruled the Supreme Court on Tuesday.

Shutting the doors on their prospects to have offices in India, a bench of Justices Adarsh K Goel and Uday U Lalit maintained that the Advocate Act and other pertinent statutes debar foreign law firms from practising in India.

It held that they were disqualified from practising in India for both litigatious and non-litigatious activities.

The Court further clarified that the foreign firms and their lawyers could, however, visit India on a "fly in-fly out" basis only for the purposes of giving advise on foreign laws.
At the same time, the bench added a stipulation that such visits must not amount to advocacy under the Act.

The bench said the Central government and the Bar Council of India may frame appropriate rules in this regard.

About arbitration, the Court said that there was no absolute right foreign firms had to participate in arbitration involving foreign laws and that it would only be permissible on the basis of the type of the agreement as well as the sanction under Sections 32 and 33 of the Act.

The bench further said that BPOs, LPOs etc would not be allowed to provide services, which, in pith and substance, amount to advocacy but they could render all other services.

The top court was called upon to decide upon the issue after the Madras High Court and the Bombay High Court delivered conflicting judgments on entry of foreign law firms.
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| Edited by: Puja Menon
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