We should allow foreign lawyers to practice: CJI

We should allow foreign lawyers to practice: CJI

Law at present allows only Indians in courts

We should allow foreign lawyers to practice: CJI
Chief Justice of India Justice J S Khehar on Saturday favoured entry of foreign lawyers in the country, saying an international exchange of lawyers would bring about excellence and improvement in the Indian legal system.

He also tried to allay the apprehension of Indian lawyers who feared losing business and client base.“Competition will bring excellence in the profession. Indian lawyers are not less competent than foreign lawyers. So the apprehension that foreign lawyers would snatch business of India lawyers is not correct.

In fact, Indian lawyers are capable of snatching jobs of foreign lawyers. But reciprocity should be insisted in allowing foreign lawyers. International exchange of lawyers will improve the system...,” the Chief Justice of India (CJI) said.

The Advocates Act, 1961, allows only Indian nationals to practice in the country. However, the draft rules prepared by the Bar Council of India last year for giving limited access to foreign lawyers has been strongly opposed by advocates.

In his speech, Justice Khehar stressed that allowing foreign lawyers and law firms entry into India on a “reciprocal basis” would help Indian lawyers practice in foreign courts and get immense exposure.

“I impress upon all the stakeholders to have a debate on this,” the CJI said while inaugurating the All India Seminar of International Law Association here.

Justice Khehar also pointed out that the Indian legal profession has grown in the last 70 years to possibly become the world’s largest as the country has 1.2 million lawyers, whose professional conduct is regulated by the Bar Council of India and state Bar Councils.

“With the advent of globalisation, the legal profession in India has undergone a major shift in the last two decades. Economic globalisation has given an opportunity for constant interaction with foreign lawyers, law firms and international clientele. As a result, there has been a transfer of knowledge, system and practice to Indian law firms to undertake a much larger role in cross-border interactions,” he said. Justice A K Sikri agreed with the CJI’s view.

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