Bar Council of India (BCI) ) has permitted foreign lawyers and law firms to practice foreign law in India on a reciprocity basis.

In a major development in the legal realm of India, the BCI on Monday, published the Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022 to allow international lawyers and arbitration practitioners to advise in India.

The BCI, which had earlier opposed the move, stated that “if need be, the Bar Council of India may consult the Govt. of India, Ministry of Law and Justice in this regard”.

“Time has come to take a call on the issue. Bar Council of India is of the view that opening up of law practice in India to foreign lawyers in the field of practice of foreign law; diverse international legal issues in non-litigious matters and in international arbitration cases would go a long way in helping legal profession/domain grow in India to the benefit of lawyers in India too,” read the BCI rules.

The BCI further emphasised that India is not likely to suffer any disadvantage if law practice is opened up to foreign lawyers in a “restricted, well-controlled and regulated manner”.

“It would be mutually beneficial for lawyers from India and abroad and these Rules are an attempt by Bar Council of India in this direction. These rules will also help to address the concerns expressed about flow of Foreign Direct Investment in the country and making India a hub of International Commercial Arbitration. Let us ensure than an opportunity for creating development and growth for legal profession and in the legal sphere in India is not lost,” it added.

The Rules also mentions that BCI may refuse to register any foreign lawyer or law firm if “in the opinion of the Council, the number of Foreign Lawyers or Foreign Law Firms of any particular Foreign country registered in India is likely to become disproportionate to the number of Indian Lawyers or Indian Law Firms registered or allowed to practice law in the corresponding foreign country”.

The registration fee for a foreign lawyer is $25,000 and for a law firm, the fee is $50,000.