BCI Rules for Foreign Lawyers to address Ease of Doing Business
A Report on the Draft Bar Council of India (BCI) Rules for Registration & Regulation of Foreign Lawyers in India, 2016 jointly prepared by Hammurabi & Solomon, Indian National Bar Association (INBA) and Medhaadvisors has been submitted to Shri. Suresh Chandra, Law Secretary, Government of India on 30th August 2016 and to Shri. Sudhanshu Pandey, Joint Secretary, Ministry of Commerce & Industry on 31st August 2016.
With an eye on ‘ease to do business’, BCI had come out with Draft Rules for Registration & Regulation of Foreign Lawyers in India under the provisions of the Advocates Act, 1961. At a meeting held on 5th July 2016, the Union Law Ministry had sought inputs from stake-holders on the said draft Rules.
‘Ease of Doing Business’ by entrepreneurs and Investors in India should be at the centre-stage of reforms in the legal services sector in India. With India targeting a $5 trillion GDP in the next 5-7 years, the reforms in legal services sector has to keep pace with the requirements of stakeholders in the development and growth of India.
The report emphasised that the reforms envisaged in the said Draft Rules, impact a multitude of stakeholders including Indian and foreign companies, large law firms, emerging law firms, boutique law firms, small law firms, Law Schools, Interns & Students , ADR & mediation Professionals and General Counsels as well as emerging class of Indian entrepreneurs under numerous initiatives of the government requiring high quality and competitive priced , domestic & foreign legal advise. Each and most of these stakeholders are impacted differently by the said reforms. Therefore, the said reforms would need to drive the growth of all the above stakeholders.
The report focusses on India emerging as the “Legal Services Capital” to the world in the Asian and African region. The reforms should therefore enable the availability of best quality of legal support at the very doorstep of entrepreneurs and professionals doing business in India and in the region.
The report examines the global best practices followed in other jurisdictions including United States of America, UK, Singapore, Brazil, South Africa, South Korea, Japan, Russia, China, Malaysia and Indonesia.
The report recommends the entry of foreign lawyers/law firms in a phased manner with indicative timelines as follows:
1. The first phase would be to allow foreign lawyers to practice in the areas covered in the Draft BCI Rules within this year.
2. The second phase would be bringing about internal reforms in various applicable laws such as the Advocates Act,1961 and Limited Liability Partnership Act, 2008 which would in turn allow more partners to be part of the firm, removing restrictions on advertising and initiating reforms in the education sector is necessary to ensure availability of a good talent pool in legal profession.
3. Last Phase can be policy changes as necessary for expansion of the practice of foreign firms by allowing foreign lawyers to practice law in India including by forming Joint Ventures (JVs) and in Collaboration with Indian Lawyers. To come up with rules and policies to regulate the foreign lawyers and keep a check on their activity and to set up a disciplinary body to keep a tab on foreign lawyers as well.
4. Reciprocity and Level playing Field to Indian Lawyers/Law Firm.
A copy of the report can be accessed at http://www.hammurabisolomon.in/BCI rules report 2016/.