The prime minister will intervene personally this month in long-running efforts to liberalise India’s legal services market.
Justice secretary Liz Truss said last week that Theresa May (pictured, with Indian PM Narendra Modi) will put promotion of UK legal services at the top of her agenda when she makes a three-day trip to India.
Opening up the Indian legal market has been as elusive as it is enticing for British firms in recent years. In January, former chancellor George Osborne and Indian finance minister Arun Jaitley agreed on further liberalisation of the Indian market, but setting a timescale has proved difficult.
Truss told MPs progress is being made and that May’s visit will accelerate that progress.
‘The prime minister will visit India this month to pave the way for UK lawyers to practise there, helping to improve our international business and trade,’ Truss said. ‘English law is a massive asset that we can leverage for wider business negotiation.’
Last November it emerged that the Law Society, Bar Council of England and Wales and the Bar Council of India were drawing up a memorandum of understanding on opening up the market, following more than 20 years of stalled initiatives.
Law Society president Robert Bourns urged May to persuade India’s legal market it can benefit from allowing in foreign lawyers. ‘This will further boost solicitors’ contribution to the UK economy and facilitate trade and investment between the two nations,’ Bourns said.
‘The prime minister’s visit is a good opportunity to explore how the English and Welsh legal profession can further contribute to India’s legal market reform, for instance by sharing our experience of regulatory reform or providing insight into how global legal firms operate.’