In this file photo taken on Feb 2, 2016, pigeons fly past the dome of India's Supreme Court building in New Delhi, India. (PHOTO / AP)
NEW DELHI - India will allow foreign law firms to set up offices in the country to offer corporate law and M&A services to clients, a major move seen as reshaping the landscape of a sector long dominated by local firms.
The Bar Council of India in new rules issued on Wednesday said foreign lawyers and law firms can also advise on international arbitration cases on a reciprocal basis, meaning lawyers from only those countries which allow similar opportunities to Indian lawyers can practice in India.
Mohit Saraf, founder of Indian law firm Saraf and Partners, said the new rules would be a "game changer" and increase competition in the market
Foreign lawyers, however, will only be allowed to advise on foreign or international laws and not be permitted to appear before any Indian courts, tribunals or regulatory authorities, the rules stated.
"They shall be allowed to practice on transactional work/corporate work such as joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property matters ... on (a) reciprocal basis," the rules stated.
The new rules mean global law firms such as Latham & Watkins, DLA Piper, and Baker McKenzie can set up offices in India.
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For years, the Indian legal system has only allowed foreign lawyers to operate on a fly-in and fly-out basis for advising clients.
Mohit Saraf, founder of Indian law firm Saraf and Partners, said the new rules would be a "game changer" and increase competition in the market.
"It will enable us to move up the value chain by collaborating with foreign lawyers, foreign law firms," he said.