After 20 years of stalled initiatives, India will take a step towards allowing foreign lawyers to practise in the country next week when legal organisations and the government meet to debate draft rules on liberalising the market.
Rules drafted by the Bar Council of India (BCI) propose allowing foreign lawyers and law firms to open offices in India after registering with the BCI and paying fees of $25,000 (£18,850) for individuals and $50,000 for firms, according to a report by local publication Legally India.
Firms would then pay deposits of $40,000 while individuals would pay deposits of $15,000.
The rules would allow foreign lawyers to do all non-Indian law transactional work, to hire Indian lawyers or to enter into partnership with Indian lawyers.
But they would prevent foreign lawyers from providing legal advice relating to courts, tribunals, boards or statutory authorities.
Representatives from the BCI, the Indian Corporate Counsel Association, the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry, and the Society of Indian Law Firms will attend next week’s meeting.
Officials from the Ministry of External Affairs, the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Finance, and the Ministry of Commerce and Industry have also been invited.
The Gazette understands that although there will be some progress towards opening the Indian market to foreign lawyers it is unlikely that the market will be liberalised this year.
Amarjit Singh, chief executive of consultancy India Business Group, told the Gazette: ‘What has happened in recent months is there has been a greater level of commitment by the Indian side. Legal services is now seen as playing an important role in facilitating the rapid economic growth in India.’
UK chancellor George Osborne announced in January that India would allow foreign lawyers to operate in the country under a raft of trade deals.
Last year the Bar Council of India dropped its longstanding opposition to liberalising its home market, paving the way for a memorandum of understanding drawn up with the Law Society and Bar Council of England and Wales.