Foreign LPOs await decision on whether they can remain in India
The Madras High Court is deliberating on the future of 31 international legal process outsourcing firms in India, after counsel concluded arguments about the legality of their presence in the country under Indian law.
Dua Associates Chennai partner R Senthil Kumar, who briefed senior counsel Abhishek Manu Singhvi on behalf of a number of US law firms, said that the verdict could take anywhere from two weeks to three months, but that it is likely to be handed down in about four weeks.
The suit was brought by the Association of Indian Lawyers, which seeks to enforce the ban on foreign law firms in India by expelling the LPOs, alleging that such firms violate rules laid down in the Advocates Act, among other issues.
The LPOs Kumar said: “[Our] main argument was that the Advocates Act does not deal with or refers to the practice of foreign law. It neither regulates nor prohibits the practice of foreign law. Therefore our case was that [since] we [US law firms] don’t have offices in India, we don’t practice Indian law and because the Advocates Act neither prohibits nor regulates the practice of foreign law, by [means of] the judicial order the petitioner is attempting to ban up something which is not covered under the Act.”
The Association of Indian Lawyers was represented by senior counsel AR Sundaresan and counsel on record Karthikeyan.
Karthikeyan said: “In their arguments they admitted that they practice in India but do not have offices in India. They provide advice from their country to Indian clients… But the practice of law includes any law. There is no demarcating line.”
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