The UK-based Indian lawyers are up in arms against a reported move by the Indian government to allow foreign law firms to practice in the country without insisting on a reciprocal arrangement in Britain.
The British Indian Lawyers Association has shot off a letter to the Union Law Minister, Hansraj Bharadwaj, suggesting that foreign firms should be allowed to practice in India or to render legal assistance to multinational companies "only if there is a reciprocal arrangement whereby the Indian lawyers are allowed to practice in the UK." The association, headed by Gautam Banerji, has also impleaded itself in the ongoing case in the Bombay High Court filed by the Lawyer's Cooperative, a legal service provider in matters of public interest, against the entry of foreign lawyers.
In the representation made to Bharadwaj, the association said: "It appears the Bombay High Court by its interim order has held that establishing a firm to provide legal assistance and/or for executing documents, negotiations and settlements of documents would certainly amount to practice of law." On September 17, the Union Ministry of Law and Justice circulated a note proposing liberalisation in the legal services sector in the country. The Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) responded to this note on November 15 saying the Government's proposal is premature because it did not conform to the procedure laid down by the World Trade Organisation's General Agreement on Trade in Services.