Court finds that foreign lawyers may fly-in and fly-out of India to give advice

February 23, 2012 The Madras high court has resolved the issue of whether foreign lawyers may fly into India temporarily to advise on international law. In a significant move, the Court held that under Indian law foreign lawyers may “fly-in, fly-out” to advise on international law and participate in negotiations and arbitration proceedings.

Supporters of liberalization say that legal practice falls in the services sector and India is bound under WTO to open the Indian legal market to foreign lawyers, but there has been vigorous and sustained opposition from domestic law firms and a protectionist Bar Council.

This ruling form the Madras high court resolves the uncertainty around what constitutes “practice”, including how the duration and frequency of visits by a foreign lawyer would be counted, what kind of work was allowed, and whether they were allowed to have a workplace in India.


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