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Indian lawyers can practise UK laws

The new British reforms will now allow Indian lawyers to practise UK laws without leaving their homes, reports Nabanita Sircar.

india Updated: Jan 19, 2006 19:44 IST
Nabanita Sircar
Nabanita Sircar

Indian lawyers will be given the chance to qualify under UK law without leaving their homes under the English Law Society reforms aimed at coaxing liberalisation from the coveted - but heavily restrictive - local legal market.

The reforms to Law Society rules for the first time allow Indian lawyers to take exams to qualify to practise UK law without travelling to England.

It is expected that around 100 applicants will this month complete conversion training in India, which is being provided, locally by the UK-based College of Law and Central Law Training. The group is expected to take a final conversion exam in Delhi or Mumbai during March.

The Law Society hopes the concession will help persuade the conservative Indian Bar to offer international lawyers some access to the fast-growing national legal market by offering the carrot of greater access to the UK's lucrative legal market.

Any progress would be regarded as a major coup for the UK Law Society, which has long lobbied the Indian Bar and Government for legal services liberalisation. The 'bilateral' strategy is also viewed as potentially offering a competitive advantage for UK lawyers against US rivals, as there is no sign of similar initiatives from the US state bars.

India is one of the world's most heavily protected legal markets, with foreign lawyers banned even from opening locally branded branches.

Law Society international policy executive Hugh McDermott is currently heading talks with the Indian Government on bar reforms. He commented: "The legal services market in India is growing at 8%. It will outstrip China within a decade."

Commercial lawyers have backed the venture. Linklaters India head Sandeep Katwala told Legal Week: "The pool of UK-qualified lawyers in India is quite large already and (the Law Society scheme) will add to this. This will benefit the UK firms when the market opens up."

First Published: Jan 19, 2006 00:00 IST