The Bar Council of India has submitted that Advocates enrolled with the Bar Council of India
are the only recognized class of persons entitled to practice law in India. Unless any other law so permits, no person can practice before any ‘Court, authority or person’ other than an Advocate enrolled under the Act. The expression “practice profession of law” covered not only appearance before the Court but also opinion work which is also known as chamber practice.
Stand of the foreign law firms is that there is no bar to a company carrying on consultancy/support services in the field of protection and management of intellectual, business and industrial proprietary rights, carrying out market service and market research, publication of reports, journals etc.
In Bar Council of India v. A.K.Balaji & Others, decided on 13 March,2018, the Apex Court dealt with whether foreign law firms/lawyers are permitted to practice in India. The matter also included two appeals – Association of Indian Lawyers versus M/s. London Court of
International Arbitration (LCIA) and others. ; and Global Indian Lawyers versus Bar Council of India & Others. The main points decided are as –
- Practicing of law includes not only appearance in courts but also giving of opinion, drafting of instruments, participation in conferences involving legal discussion. These are parts of non-litigation practice which is part of practice of law. (Para 40)
- The Court upheld the view of the Bombay High Court and Madras High Court to the effect that foreign law firms/companies or foreign lawyers cannot practice profession of law in India either in the litigation or in non-litigation side. (Para 44)
- There was no bar for the foreign law firms or foreign lawyers to visit India for a temporary period on a “fly in and fly out” basis for the purpose of giving legal advice to
their clients in India regarding foreign law or their own system of law and on diverse international legal issues. (Para 44)
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