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As SILF predicts liberalisation will happen any day now, BCI set to meet govt for long overdue talks tomorrow

The Bar Council of India (BCI) is set to meet the government tomorrow to discuss the new draft rules that will enable the entry of foreign law firms into India, reported The Lawyer (full article requires free registration) adding that the Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) has already met with its members as a precursor to what SILF called the “inevitable and imminent” opening up of the legal services sector.

SILF president Lalit Bhasin called a “crucial meeting” with its 100 SILF members on 17 July to “discuss the implications of the likely move on the part of the Government of India of suddenly and without prior intimation opening of the legal services sector to foreign lawyers”, in a letter the opening sentence of which read:

Any day you may expect an announcement/ordinance/rules permitting foreign lawyers to set up their law practice in India. It appears that there will be no further consultation with the legal profession.

Bhasin referred to the Chief Justice of India JS Khehar’s and another Supreme Court judge’ open and unconditional support in favour of legal services liberalisation.

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The BCI meeting comes 10 months after the BCI walked out on the first such liberalisation discussions that the government had scheduled with it, and one year ago in July 2016 the BCI had completed its first proposed rules to allow foreign lawyers to practice in India.

According to Legally India’s survey of 16 foreign law firms most of which are interested in entering India, the Singapore-style model of regulating foreign law firms is the most preferred model.

“I’ve been there many times, and I’ve learned to be patient. I will believe it when I see it,” a head of India practice of a top UK firm told The Lawyer.

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