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In Supreme Court, random lawyers body comes to rescue of foreign firms out of nowhere as BCI strikes conciliatory note

The Bar Council of India’s (BCI) appeal opposing entry of foreign law firms into India today inched forward in the Supreme Court, as the respondents finished filing their written submissions 32 months after the first hearing in the case.

Final arguments in the BCI’s July 2012 appeal against the Madras high court judgment in AK Balaji V Union of India will begin in July.

In the fourth hearing in the case today, a lawyers’ organisation called the Global Indian Lawyers (GIL) joined as an intervenor, supporting the entry of foreign law firms into India.

Correction: The earlier version of this story misreported the name of the intervenors. We regret the error.

The GLA separately also filed a special leave petition (SLP) challenging the more than six-year-old Bombay high court decision in the Lawyers Collective case banning the entry of foreign law firms into India.

Senior advocate Huzefa Ahmadi argued for the GLA and senior advocate MN Krishnamani appeared for the BCI, which stated that it is considering if it can reach a consensus with the foreign law firms, confirmed a lawyer from Dua Associates who is privy to the case.

He told Legally India that the two firms had asserted that they were not interested in practising Indian law and were content with flying in and flying out (FIFO), but the BCI was opposing even FIFO.

The case which began with 36 respondents now has far fewer after many law firms were deleted from the list of respondents because notice could not be served on them.

The government is expected to meet this month to clear a proposal on legal services which includes, among other things, allowing foreign lawyers to practice in India in a limited manner and on a reciprocal basis.

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