The Bar Council of India has released a joint resolution with the country's state Bar councils urging the Indian government not to open up the legal profession to foreign lawyers, in the latest blow to hopes of imminent liberalization of the key emerging market.
The statement, which was issued Sunday during a conference on liberalization hosted by the Bar, calls on the Indian government to delay relaxing its rules on foreign lawyers until further consultation with the body, which says liberalization will damage the local market.
The news will be greeted with dismay by bodies including the U.K.'s Law Society, which has spearheaded a charm offensive designed to accelerate liberalization of the legal market in India.
However, the conference did authorize the Bar to discuss restrictions on Indian lawyers abroad and reciprocal arrangements with the U.K.'s trade and justice ministries, as well as the legal regulators of other countries.
The developments come as the Indian government attempts to overturn a 1991 ruling that saw foreign lawyers banned from practicing in India under the terms of the Advocates Act.
The government filed a counter-affidavit in the Mumbai High Court this week arguing that the act applies only to domestic lawyers and that no legislative changes are therefore required to allow foreign lawyers to practice in the country.