India’s legal industry has for a long time been inaccessible to international firms due to the rigidity within the market and the reluctance to allow any international input. However, the tides are changing with the Bar Council of India (BCI) recently announcing that they have proposed a set of rules that could see foreign lawyers practice in the Indian Jurisdiction. Ministers have announced they will discuss their proposals on July 5th with speculation suggesting that liberalisation could happen as early as September. Current proposals would allow international firms to open offices within the country and practice non-Indian law for a registration fee of around US$50,000 and a deposit of $40,000, while individuals would pay $25,000 and $15,000.
Like in many Middle Eastern jurisdictions, international law firms would have to hire or go into partnership with a domestic Indian firm in order to appear before courts or tribunals and practice Indian law. There will no doubt be a deluge of international firms entering into the jurisdiction with magic circle trio Allen & Overy, Clifford Chance and Linklaters already having previously indicated an interest in launching offices there. It will also come as welcome news to Ashurst, Chadbourne & Parke and White & Case, each of whom have liaison offices in the country.