Supreme Court refuses to allow entry of foreign law firms

Tuesday, 13 Mar, 2018

The Supreme Court on Tuesday (March 13) upheld the decision of the Madras and Bombay High Courts, saying that foreign lawyers and foreign law firms can't open offices in India nor they can appear in courts.

The Supreme Court (SC) today refused to allow the entry of foreign law firms in India to practice law in court.

The court verdict came on pleas challenging judgements by the Bombay and Madras High Courts.

They cited an American case in which it was deemed an unauthorised practice of the law for a Mexican lawyer in NY to advice on divorce proceedings in Mexico under Mexican law, legal news portal Live Law reported.

The court also said that foreign lawyers could not be barred from coming to India to conduct arbitration proceedings in disputes involving global commercial arbitration but they would be subject to the code of conduct applicable to the legal profession in India.

In the alternative, he has sought for a direction quashing Rule 49 of the Bar Council of India Rules as ultra vires the Constitution and its basic structure, and to permit all Public Servants to practice as Advocates. He had said that foreign lawyers should be allowed to come to India if Indian lawyers wanted the privilege of doing so in other countries.

However, there is no limitation for them to visit India for a temporary period on a "fly-in and fly-out" basis for giving legal advice to their clients in India relating to the law which is applicable to their country.