Foreign Law firms can not Establishes Branch Office (BO) / Liaison Office (LO) / Project Office (PO) or any other place of business in India

Foreign Law firms

Hon’ble Supreme court, in the case of the Bar Council of India vs A.K. Balaji & Ors. vide intermine order, has directed RBI not to grant any permission to any foreign law firm for opening of Liaison Office (LO) in India after date of issuance of such order. Hence, RBI issued directions vide Notification No. RBI/2015-16/215 dated 29th October, 2015 that no foreign law firm shall be permitted to open any LO in India till further orders/notification in this regard. 

However, foreign law firms which have been granted permission prior to the date of interim order for opening LOs in India may be allowed to continue provided no renewal shall be granted till the policy is reviewed.

Upon final disposal of appeal  by Hon’ble Supreme Court, it was held that advocates enrolled under the Advocates Act, 1961 alone are entitled to practice law in India. Foreign law firms/companies or foreign lawyers cannot practice the profession of law in India. Therefore, foreign law firms/companies or foreign lawyers or any other person resident outside India, are not permitted to establish any branch office, project office, liaison office or other place of business in India for the purpose of practicing legal profession.

In compliance of such precedent, RBI issued Notification No. RBI/2020-21/69 A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No. 07 dated 23rd November, 2020 directed that AD Category – I banks shall not to grant any approval to any branch office, project office, liaison office or other place of business in India under FEMA for the purpose of practicing legal profession in India. Further, any violation shall be reported to the Reserve Bank of India.

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed are strictly of the author and VJM & Associates LLP. The contents of this article are solely for informational purpose. It does not constitute professional advice or recommendation of firm. Neither the author nor firm and its affiliates accepts any liabilities for any loss or damage of any kind arising out of any information in this article nor for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

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