Clifford Chance and India’s AZB & Partners have ended a “best friends” referral agreement, the Mumbai-based Legally India blog reports.

The alliance between the firms was announced with considerable fanfare at the beginning of 2009, as Legal Week reported at the time. Foreign firms are barred from having offices in India, so the Clifford Chance-AZB deal, like a similar 2008 arrangement between Allen & Overy and Indian firm Trilegal, was seen as a potential model for international firms hoping to get around the restrictions and a possible precursor to a full-fledged merger once the Indian market opened up.

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