Veerappa Moily

The Union law minister Veerapa Moily has publicly said for the first time that the entry of foreign law firms was more of a "transitional problem" rather than "perennial" and that minds should not be shut to "big ideas", while reasserting the need for "proper capacity building".

The law minister (pictured left) said that he echoed the government's opinion while responding to questions on whether foreign law firms should be allowed to operate in India during a press conference in New Delhi on 13 June, according to several news reports.

"We should not shut our minds to the big ideas," Moily reportedly said on the entry of foreign firms, adding: "It is a transitional problem, I don't say this is a perennial problem."

While stating that the government did not favour the entry of foreign law firms, he said that "at the same time, government is discussing it".

However, Moily added that the fears of Indian lawyers would first be taken into consideration before arriving at any decision and refused to "value judge" when asked if the bar councils were justified in opposing foreign firms. "Their fears and apprehensions need to be addressed and it is the duty of the government to address that."

Describing it as a "pending issue", he noted that the Bombay High Court has given a judgement and now the matter has come before the Madras High Court.

Elaborating on a question related to the Chennai writ petition against 30 foreign law firms and a legal process outsourcing (LPO) company, he said that "the government cannot have a view on this" as the issue was sub-judice in Madras High Court.

"It is being agitated… it will come up again immediately after the (court) vacation," Moily said.

He noted that the apprehensions of the Indian lawyers were not unique and that the United Kingdom and China had faced similar problems in the past when foreign law firms wanted entry but that the concerns were overcome later.

Restating his previous position on the issue, he also added that the Government would work for the capacity building of lawyers in order to put them on par with lawyers abroad. He said that the entry of foreign law firm cannot be a "one-way traffic". "It has a lot of facets, lot of components. We need to address all of them together. We can't open the door and invite them."

While Moily has in the past often talked about foreign law firms at press conferences claiming that the government would take a decision soon after consulting all stakeholders, this appears to be the first time that Moily has publicly adopted a marginally softer stance on the issue by suggesting minds should not be shut to "big ideas".

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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 15 Jun 10, 02:43
This is becoming a tedious issue with the government coming out with non-statements like the above or oft-repeated excuses like "reciprocity" as in the case of the BCI president. It is embarassing how the profession is held to ransom by a small group of family oligarchs who have the ear of key people in government. Poll the associates, Mr. Moily and Mr. Subramaniam and then find out what the profession really wants. It is not relevant to ask the law firm partners (vested interest for most of them) or litigators (who will not be affected since foreign firms are not asking for access to courts).
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 15 Jun 10, 03:01
all CRAAAAAAAP

can't believe ppl take moily seriously. ever since he took over he's been making grand statements but has done nothing. he is the worst minister bcoz the other non-performers don't at least make empty boasts like this guy.
some examples of moily's empty promises and non-performance: speedier trials, police reforms, dinakaran issue, gender-sensitive justice, amendment of IPC to impose stricter penalties, land acquisition laws, justice for sikh riot victims, women's bill, new high courts, circuit benches of SC in other cities,

Do people forget that Moily was charged in the JMM bribery case and got acquitted only on technical grounds? Do people forget that he was among those who pushed for caste to be included in the census? Can such a person be expected to reform the system?
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 15 Jun 10, 04:08
Absolutely useless guy. All talk and no action. Sub judice is an opportune recourse under which he'll take shelter for the years to come. Is he [...] enough not to know that the govt is a respondent in the Madras writ and therefore needs to say whatever it thinks (or whatever it has been told to think)? What does he mean the govt cannot have a view? Won't the govt. file a counter? What will he tell the court, that he is not yet done taking instructions from the family firms? Mr. [...] Moily: not every court proceeding gags you. [...]
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 15 Jun 10, 04:18
Moily is the official soundbyte minister of this Government. Incapable of anything but the utterly helpful and uninformative soundbyte to the media... once in a while.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 15 Jun 10, 05:13
BTW, Moily is the best law minister India ever had. Major reforms are underway. Lawyers and judiciary will benefit in the long run(After 6-10 yrs from now.

Bar council of India should come out the shell and embrace change. Perform or perish is the mantra. Its utter non sense that a case drags for 15-20 yrs, which results in minimum/no punishment.

Judiciary needs a overhaul. Crimes come down with speedy justice.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 15 Jun 10, 05:28
Vote for congress and this is the kind of law minister you will get. [...] Moily really personifies this lethargic party, which has screwed this country for 60 years and is the cause of all the problems in India. The govt may have the backing of the pro-congress bootlickers in the media (NDTV, IBN etc), but most people in India rate Manmohan Singh and his cabinet of jokers as a BIG ZERO. It is shocking how an Italian who never even went to college is running this country. The UPA made excuses about the Left blocking reforms and now DMK and TMC. The BJP had only 180 seats and had DMK, TMC and many others....yet they carried out so many reforms!! It all boils down to the quality of political leaders. India can progress only under the BJP. You may hate Narendra Modi, but he is the best person to lead the country.

IF ANY OF YOU HAVE EVER VOTED CONGRESS OR PLAN TO VOTE FOR RAHUL BABA IN 2014, GO **** YOURSELVES.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 15 Jun 10, 09:40
@5

"BTW, Moily is the best law minister India ever had. Major reforms are underway. Lawyers and judiciary will benefit in the long run(After 6-10 yrs from now."

hahahahaha... why don't u also say that shivraj patil was the best home minister india ever had? You think that a law minister who takes 6-10 years to implement things is good?? And FYI there are not even minor reforms that are underway. moily has done nothing. it is moily who jarnail singh should have thrown a shoe at, bcoz he and not PC should be blamed for the fiasco over the sikh riots cases.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 15 Jun 10, 13:33
Kian please interview NLU grads who have opened their own law firms or are working as advocates in courts and seek their opinions on the issue. Please also conduct an anonymous poll among students .It is unfair that Lalit Bhasin and the Bar Council people are interviewed but the views of the youth are left out. We are important stakeholders.

I request you to air the views of the silent majority. LI's coverage has been most unfair and lop-sided.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 15 Jun 10, 22:33
@ Moily, BCI etc. - Everyone knows that the problem ain't perennial. Moily's statement is no "scoop". I cannot understand what is meant by the statement that the issue is pending in the courts. The issue is not judicial; rather legislative / political. Courts are only deciding whether foreign firms can do what they are doing, under the present legal framework. But politicians will take the final call and will frame the final law allowing / barring foreign firms .... what courts say today will not be relevant tomorrow from this perspective. ON THAT, MOILY IS SILENT (saying that there are deliberations is useless as we all have been led to believe that for years). And if lawyers are to be consulted, WHY NOT HAVE A VOTE ON THAT to get a feel of the opinion of majority. Why listen to big law firms only? Litigation lawyers don't care as foreign firms would not be allowed to / interested in "litigation". They will do transactional work that law firms do. Junior lawyers in law firms would care, and they would vote in favour of allowing entry. So, only the top management of the law firms have things to lose, and they will vote against (and will lose on at least a 70:30 ratio even if half the junior lawyers turn up to vote ... senior law firm lawyers would not miss the vote as they know they will have to vote against in large numbers).

@ #8 ... NLU grads views are simple - allow foreign firms, and let us get more job options. It will ensure that Indian firms stop running the business as a family shop n they will treat associates better. Also, quality will only go up up up and the "profession" will become more professional.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 15 Jun 10, 23:08
Well said, #9. The more and more the foreign law firms issue is written on LI, the more and more frustrated I get because a vast majority of young lawyers are being stifled for sheer lack of forum, voice and presence by a bunch of heavyweights.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 16 Jun 10, 00:53
Thanks #10. It makes me angry and depressed when established lawyers / statesmen talk so illogically. They do not even attempt to make a sound argument and make vague remarks, and insult our intelligence / take as fools-for-granted. They forget they are dealing with lawyers and not their usual vote-bank. I THINK WE SHOULD FILE A PIL IF POSSIBLE. Not for a decision, but for a direction to the Center to swing one way or the other, with reasons, pursuant to a public debate / comments-invite.

While this debate will go on and on, and some senior solicitors will claim that they are thinking of “sustainable development” and not short term benefits, they are yet to give a reasoned argument. If a good reason is shown from sustainability perspective, and if we are missing some bigger picture, we would agree. But we are in a vicious circle of never-ending same-points-repeated talks.

As a junior lawyer, my argument is simple …. If foreign firms come with some terms like (a) recruit 70% Indians (b) key management to have at least 51% Indians (c) revenues not to leave India, and (d) only transactional work to be allowed, then it will not harm anyone (except few top solicitors). At least, no argument to the contrary has been made, leave alone being established. I think we junior lawyers would love to be part of a “profession” where we are treated with respect. As of now, only few firms deal with us that way.

#9
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 16 Jun 10, 01:59
Agree with the above comments. However, a PIL will not succeed because the reactionary forces will be vindictive and blackmail the petitioners (unless some rich or powerful people file the petition).The least that we "silent sufferers" can hope for is that LI highlights our cause by interviewing young lawyers. Sadly, only Mr Bhasin and the BCI old guard get their views publicised on this website. I really wonder whether there is a hidden nexus between LI and some of the vested interests opposing liberalisation. How come LI has not done a poll on such an important issue? How come no young lawyer has been interviewed? Is this what you call journalism?
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 16 Jun 10, 02:03
Have heart people, there are some partners large firms that do support foreign firms. Unsurprisingly, these are not the family or individual run firms.
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Like +0 Object -0 kianganz 16 Jun 10, 02:15
Thanks for your comments.

What I do find very interesting is that lawyers at the BCI and elsewhere assume that we are pro-liberalisation while those who are pro-liberalisation assume that we must be in bed from the anti-liberalisation lobby.

I guess if nothing else, the fact that we have managed to upset both sides of the debate is evidence of balanced journalism of some sort.

If I remember rightly, we did do a web poll right in the early days of Legally India, which showed that readers were in favour of foreign firms coming in.

We will run something along those lines again soon, though I do not think the findings will be news to anyone.

Best regards,
Kian
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 16 Jun 10, 02:39
Kian, why don't you have a NDTV style debate that'll be webcast on LI with 2/3 pros and 2/3 antis from the top firms and a select audience comprising of lawyers from both the litigation and the transactional spheres? There could be a real time question-answer session where LI readers can participate. Some of the foreign law firm lawyers in India can sure also be around for us to hear what they have to say on the many sticky issues that will get discussed. I don't know though if you have the bandwidth for that. But this will truly put the competing market interests on a single platform for a confrontation.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 16 Jun 10, 03:57
As lawyers, let us not be intimidated. I know this is easier said than done, but no big shot is gonna be able to do anything if a PIL is filed. And big litigating lawyers don't even care. I know it is tough to fight the 'anti-lobby' but I have faith in the apex court. A PIL will not be challenging anything, just requesting the Center to take a call based inter alia on proper feedback from people who matter i.e. lawyers.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 16 Jun 10, 04:07
Excellent idea #15 !!! Please do this!! If bandiwith is a problem, let's have a simple text-based webchat.

And I think young partners of new firms must be introduced, esp those run by NLU grads like Fidus Legal, Aditya Sondhi, Rohit Das etc.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 16 Jun 10, 04:22
"It is being agitated"... what a guy.
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 16 Jun 10, 09:05
"It is being agitated"... what a guy.

haha lol... moily really personifies the average indian lawyer. it's lawyers with such dubious english skills who are scared of liberalisation.

ok, so kapil sibal didn't want to be law minister, but is THIS the best replacement the italian lady could come up with? and moily's predecessor was bhardwaj!! what a joke this congress party is. we are returning to the rk dhawan days. [...]
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 16 Jun 10, 11:28
How soon is soon for this government???? Or, is it driven by the chosen few who, have a clear fear and a vested interest in keeping the door, and the mind closed. There is truth in the perception that foreign law firms pushing for the opening of the Indian legal market are motivated, at least partly, by economic interests. Arent the dissenters in India also protecting the interests of the local bar? India consists of several top quality law firms that have grown exponentially in the last few years. But, that legal landscape is changing, and another breed of law firms has emerged started by groups of younger, first-generational lawyers with good credentials, and international experience. Such firms want creativity in the practice of the law, imbibe and institutionalize best practices, encourage healthy competition and provide career paths in sync with global practices. Businesses of all sizes are becoming increasingly global in nature, and India has been a significant beneficiary of this trend over the last decade or two. The legal profession must mirror the community that it serves!
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Like +0 Object -0 Anonymous guest 16 Jun 10, 21:38
so moily is open to big ideas? here's one: resign and give your portfolio to someone efficient.
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