Sunday, October 1, 2023

Bar Council of Delhi, High Court Bar Association seeks stay on BCI Rules Entry for foreign lawyers and law firms

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A stay has been sought by the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD), the Delhi High Court Bar Association (DHCBA) and other lawyers’ bodies on the latest rule by the Bar Council of India (BCI) Rules for allowing the entry of foreign lawyers and law firms to practice foreign law in India on a reciprocity basis.

In an interim report by BCD it was submitted to the BCI  that it had appointed a special committee on March 20, 2023 to consider the BCI Rules for registration and regulation of foreign lawyers and law firms in India. 

The committee members in its meetings, unanimously felt that the new rules had serious repercussions and effects that can be detrimental for the legal professionals in India.

The report stated that the same has been issued without taking the legal fraternity across the country into confidence.

As per the report, the BCI Rules will substantially damage the legal profession and jeopardize the interest of all Indian advocates.

The members have decided to hold all bar associations meets to apprise their members about the change Rules and its ill-effects.

In the meantime, they have requested BCI to stay the effect of the Rules.

The report of BCD that contained the deliberations in the three meetings talks about how legal profession in India, which otherwise is considered to be noble, would come within the definition of commercial activity.

it also talked about how there was no categorical provision for reciprocity as Indian lawyers need to register with solicitor firms and are required to pass Solicitor Qualification Examination (SQE).

They talked o how Advocates will be subjected to the jurisdiction of consumer forum and will have to face cases lodged by their clients before the consumer redressal forum.

Foreign lawyers would be free to advertise, solicit, share commissions, which is not permissible to Indian lawyers under the Advocates Act and BCI Rules.

On March 10, 2023, BCI came out with the Bar Council of India Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022 to enable international lawyers and arbitration practitioners to advise in India.

A press release was issued on March 20,  to clarify that such foreign lawyers and law firms can offer legal advice and services only on international laws and such advice can be tendered only to foreign clients.

This week, the BCI signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Bar Council of England and Wales and the Law Society of England and Wales clarifying the conditions under which Indian lawyers will be allowed to practice in the United Kingdom.

In a press release announcing the MoU, the BCI said that its recently introduced Rules allowing the entry of foreign law firms on a reciprocal basis “needed certain crucial changes”.

It added that it will consider representations from Indian law firms and sections of the Indian Bar, as well as the opinions of foreign bodies before making such changes.

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