Published on: March 18, 2023

Bar Council of India (BCI)

Bar Council of India (BCI)

Why in news? The Bar Council of India (BCI) has agreed to allow foreign lawyers and law firms to practice in India in a restricted, well controlled and regulated way on a reciprocity basis.


  • As per the rules, foreign lawyers and law firms will be entitled to practise only in non-litigious matters.
  • The three broad areas which have been opened up for them include foreign law, international legal issues and arbitration matters.
  • Foreign lawyers or firms won’t be able to practice in India without registration with the BCI.
  • The BCI has notified the Bar Council of India Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022, which specifies in details the cases which can be taken up by the foreign lawyers or firms.
  • The move would benefit Indian lawyers, whose standards of proficiency in law are comparable to the international standards.
  • The practise will be in a restricted and well-controlled and regulated manner on the principle of reciprocity as it would be mutually beneficial for lawyers from India and abroad
  • The rules would also help to address the concerns expressed about the flow of Foreign Direct Investment into the country and would help make India a hub for international commercial arbitration.
  • This restriction, however, would not apply to law practice by a foreign lawyer or foreign law firm on a ‘fly in and fly out basis’ for the purpose of giving legal advice to a client in India.

What can foreign lawyers and firms do in India ?

  • They can practice on transactional work/corporate work such as joint ventures, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property matters, drafting of contracts and other related matters on reciprocal basis.
  • Provide legal advice and appear as a lawyer for a person, firm, company, corporation, trust, society etc which has an address in a foreign country in any international arbitration case which is conducted in India and in such arbitration case where foreign law may or may not be involved.
  • They may provide legal advice and appear as a lawyer before bodies other than courts, tribunals, boards, statutory authorities who are not legally entitled to take evidence on oath, in which knowledge of foreign law of the country of primary qualification is essential.
  • Provide legal advice concerning the laws of the country of primary qualification and on diverse international legal issues.
  • Registered foreign law firms and lawyers can also open up law offices in India.
  • Enter into a partnership with one or more foreign lawyers or foreign law firms registered in India.

About Bar council of India

  • It is a statutory body established under the section 4 of Advocates Act 1961 that regulates the legal practice and legal education in India.
  • Its members are elected from amongst the lawyers in India and as such represents the Indian bar.
  • It prescribes standards of professional conduct, etiquettes and exercises disciplinary jurisdiction over the bar.
  • It also sets standards for legal education and grants recognition to universities whose degree in law will serve as a qualification for students to enroll themselves as advocates upon graduation.

Members :

  • It consists of members elected from each state bar council, and the Attorney General of India and the Solicitor General of India who are ex officio members.
  • The council elects its own chairman and vice-chairman for a period of two years from amongst its members