India has recently opened up its legal sector to foreign lawyers and law firms. The entry of foreign lawyers and law firms into India was initially restricted by the Advocates Act, 1961, which allowed only Indian citizens to practice law in India.
However, in 2015, the Indian government introduced the Legal Services Regulation Bill, which allows foreign lawyers and law firms to set up offices in India and offer legal services.
Under the new regulations, foreign law firms and lawyers can now establish a presence in India by setting up a liaison office, a branch office, or a subsidiary office. They can also form partnerships or associations with Indian lawyers or law firms
Foreign lawyers and law firms are permitted to provide legal advice on foreign and international law, but they are not allowed to appear in Indian courts or advise on Indian law unless they team up with Indian lawyers.
However, foreign lawyers and law firms are allowed to provide legal advice on international law and foreign law to clients in India, provided they do not practice Indian law or set up an office in India. Additionally, foreign lawyers are allowed to participate in international commercial arbitrations conducted in India.
To practice Indian law, foreign lawyers need to obtain a temporary permit from the Bar Council of India. The permit is valid for six months and can be renewed for a maximum period of five years. However, foreign lawyers cannot become members of the Bar Council of India or practice Indian law independently.
There are certain exceptions to the above rule, such as foreign lawyers being allowed to advise on foreign law for the purpose of arbitration proceedings, or being allowed to work in India as consultants or advisors on a temporary basis.
The entry of foreign lawyers and law firms has generated mixed reactions from the Indian legal community. Some lawyers and law firms have welcomed the move, saying it will bring in new expertise and resources and help India compete globally.
However, others have expressed concern that foreign lawyers and law firms could take away business from local lawyers and undermine the Indian legal profession.
Overall, the entry of foreign lawyers and law firms into India is expected to have a significant impact on the Indian legal sector. It remains to be seen how the new regulations will be implemented and how they will affect the Indian legal profession in the long run.
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