Global News

Plea before SC: No lawmakers as lawyers

Plea before SC: No lawmakers as lawyers

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ruled that foreign law firms can not practise in India, but allowed worldwide lawyers to "fly in and fly out" to provide legal advice to their clients in the country.

The court, however, allowed foreign lawyers to come to India on an advisory capacity, especially regarding worldwide law and global arbitration.

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

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

A bench of Chief Justice Dipak Misra and Justices A M Khanwilkar and D Y Chandrachud issued notice to apex regulatory body BCI on the plea which alleged that parliamentarians and legislators, practising as lawyers, posed a "conflict of interest" and violated the provisions of the Advocates Act and the Bar Council of India Rules. However, the Court has allowed foreign lawyers to advise clients in India on a casual, temporary "fly in fly out" basis.

Interestingly, previous year in January, the ministry of commerce and industry on January 3 amended a rule allowing foreign law firms to set up offices and advise clients from Indian Special Economic Zones (SEZs).

Ajay Shaw, partner, DSK Legal, said: "This judgment will not have any bearing on Indian law firms at this stage. In any case, foreign firms looking to enter India, whenever permitted, will look at local alliances to hit the ground running".