Potential Restrictions on Travel to India by Lawyers from Outside India Including In-House Legal Counsel
An Indian lawyer has filed a lawsuit in a court in India seeking to restrain certain named US, British and Australian law firms and other lawyers from outside India, i.e., foreign lawyers, from providing legal advice of any kind in India, including advice regarding the laws of their respective home jurisdictions. If this lawsuit is successful, lawyers not admitted as "advocates" in India, including in-house legal counsel, will be barred from traveling to India to advise their clients, even on laws of their home jurisdiction (e.g., New York law or English law). Recently, the Government of India and the Bar Council of India, a statutory body empowered to regulate the practice of law within India (the "BCI"), have filed affidavits in the Indian court supporting the position advocated by the petitioner in the lawsuit. The Indian court is scheduled to commence a final hearing on the merits of the lawsuit on February 1, 2012. It is difficult to predict the outcome.
If you are concerned that an adverse ruling by the Indian court could affect the ability of in-house legal counsel to travel to India or consult with foreign lawyers in India, we urge you to communicate your concerns to the Government of India and the BCI on an expedited basis.