The top court upheld the judgements by the Madras High Court in 2012 and the Bombay High Court in 2009 that foreign lawyers may only offer advice on foreign laws on a "fly-in-fly-out" basis.
The Supreme Court on Tuesday said that foreign law firms cannot set up offices in India but their lawyers could give legal advise on foreign laws. The Court has also asked BCI and the Central Government to frame necessary rules in this regard.
The apex court also held that foreign lawyers can appear in global commercial arbitration subject to relevant institutional framework and rules.
The Supreme Court (SC) today refused to allow the entry of foreign law firms in India to practice law in court. "In any case, foreign firms looking to enter India, whenever permitted, will look at local alliances to hit the ground running".
Due to a phenomenal increase in global arbitrations involving foreign litigants, foreign law firms and lawyers have started appearing in many legal proceedings in India. About arbitration, the Court said that there was no absolute right foreign firms had to participate in arbitration involving foreign laws and that it would only be permissible on the basis of the type of the agreement as well as the sanction under Sections 32 and 33 of the Act. Last year's amendment was made by the commerce ministry, while whether to allow a foreign law firm in India is a purview of ministry of law and justice, said industry experts at the time.