Let's start with an old fight thats taken a new turn and has lawyers across the country in heated debate. In 2009, the Bombay high court had its say. Then, in February this year, the Chennai high ruled on the matter. And now the Supreme Court has passed an interim order! All to determine what foreign lawyers can or cannot do in India! Payaswini Upadhyay gets you the details.
In Lawyers Collective vs The Bar Council case, the Bombay HC had laid down that foreign law firms are not eligible to open liaison offices or practice law in India. That was in 2009.
(Trilegal is representing one of the 30 foreign law firms involved in the matter)
"The question that had arisen before the Bombay HC or which was framed before the Bombay HC was whether the practice of profession of law in India included both litigious as well as non-litigious practice. And the Bombay HC said that it did include non-litigious practice as well. As matters stood there, lot of international commercial arbitration started happening in India- foreign lawyers were flying in and flying out to advise clients."
It is against this practice that advocate AK Balaji filed a petition in the Madras High Court. The grounds of appeal were that under the guise of LPOs, seminars and arbitrations, foreign lawyers are visiting India and earning money from their clients. And by doing so, they are violating the provisions of Income Tax and Immigration Laws. AK Balaji also contended that 30 foreign law firms are actively practicing law in the field of mergers, takeovers and the like but his petition doesnt quite describe how.
The foreign law firms argued that their lawyers fly in and fly out of India on a temporary basis to advise clients on international transactions and foreign law- an aspect not covered by the Advocates Act.
In its order, the Madras HC laid down 3 things
First, foreign lawyers can 'fly-in-fly-out' of India to advise Indian clients on