Opening of Indian legal market to be 'explored'

By James Barnes

01 March 2013 at 11:42 BST

India's booming legal services market could be further improved by allowing greater access to foreign law firms, according to a report prepared by the country's finance ministry.

India: access all areas?

The economic survey also revealed that legal services in India grew by an average of 8.2 per cent each year between 2005 and 2012, reports Legally India.

Greater access

In the report, the finance ministry noted that ‘liaison offices’ of foreign law firms were permitted under Indian law, but recommended ‘exploring’ greater access for foreign law firms, which would in turn ‘improve the competitiveness of the Indian market’.
The report, presented to Parliament on Wednesday, adds: ‘Given that India has benefited from opening up to foreign competition in many other areas, and given that Indian lawyers are offering services across the world, India should explore allowing foreign law firms greater access to the Indian market.’


Although the ministry’s report did not state which foreign law firms had set up liaison offices in India, or under what law liaison offices were legal, Legally India states that a 2009 case against foreign law firms saw London firm Ashurst shut down its Delhi liaison office in February 2010.
Other factors noted by the survey claimed that Indian lawyers – of which there are 1.2 million - were 50 to 80 per cent more ‘cost-competitive’ than US and UK lawyers, and had created a round-the-clock working time zone for legal work.


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