Bombay High Court: Any practice of foreign law firms is illegal

International firms Ashurst, White & Case and Chadbourne & Parke have lost the long-running case against the Lawyers' Collective, with the Bombay High Court's decision that the practice of all law by foreign firms in India is illegal. The Reserve Bank of India's decision to allow foreign law firms White & Case LLP, Ashurst LLP and Chadbourne & Parke LLP to open liaison offices was not justified, the Mumbai High Court ruled. According to the court ruling, foreign law firms cannot carry on non-litigious practice in India, including drafting of applications, consultancy work or any legal work that does not involve appearing before the courts, unless they abide by the Advocates Act that governs the conduct of Indian lawyers. FoxMandal Little Mumbai litigation partner Guruprasad Pal, who represented White & Case in the case, said: "We do not have the copy of the judgement but the court pronounced that the petition has been allowed." The decision is a huge setback for foreign law firms. It isn’t clear yet whether “best friends” agreements foreign law firms have with Indian counterparts could fall within the ambit of a liaison office. Zia Mody, partner of Indian law firm AZB & Partners said that the judgement doesn't have an impact on its best friends agreement with Clifford Chance as the British firm is not practising in India neither do they have any liaison office in the country.

Bombay High Court: Any practice of foreign law firms is illegal Thu, Dec 17, 2009