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Lawyers Collective v Foreign Firms - download and debate the judgment (UPDATE-1)

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The Bombay High Court has decided that the 1961 Advocates Act applies to all lawyers, irrespective of whether they appear in court or act in non-litigious matters. Download the judgment and share your learned views.

The judgment by Chief Justice Swatanter Kumar and Justice J P Devadhar stated that if the Advocates Act were restricted to persons practising the profession of law in litigious matters then an "advocate found guilty of misconduct in performing his duties while practising in non-litigious matters cannot be punished" under the Act.

"There is no reason to hold that in India the practise in non litigious matters is unregulated," they ruled.

The judgment also noted: "Since the [issue of foreign firms practising law in India] is pending before the Central Government for more than 15 years, we direct the Central Government to take appropriate decision in the matter as expeditiously as possible."

Until the Government would take such action, the 1961 Advocates Act would prevail, held Devadhar. Foreign firms and the respondent firms Ashurst, Chadbourne & Parke and White & Case would therefore be bound to follow the provisions of the Advocates Act.

In light of the above, the Court also ruled that the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) as co-respondent was "not justified in granting permission to the foreign law firms to open liaison offices in India".

Download the judgment here (please do not hotlink to the file as it will kill our server).

Read readers' immediate reactions to the breaking news here and join the discussion.

Comment below if you have views on the legal and practical implications of the judgment.

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