On 5-6-2023, a Memorandum of Understanding (‘MoU’) was signed between the Bar Council of India, Law Society of England and Wales and Bar Council of England and Wales to experience and gain knowledge of the practice of law in both jurisdictions, subject to rules and regulations of respective authorities.
1. Following will be addressed as “the Bodies”-
• Bar Council of India (‘BCI’)- represents practicing legal profession and Legal Education in India.
• Law Society of England and Whales (‘Law Society’)- independent professional body of Solicitors
• Bar Council of England and Whales– independent professional body of Barristers
2. Statement of Memorandum-
• Rule of Law and Role of Legal Profession: The Bodies affirmed their commitment to the rule of law, human rights and access to justice and also affirmed their share by continuously advancing these principles.
• Mutual Exchange of legal practitioners between India and England and Wales for gaining knowledge and experience:
✓ Recalling common legal heritage and to advance rule of law and interests of practitioners.
✓ Recognizing the importance of growth
✓ Desire to strengthen cooperation
✓ Accepting that closer ties will be mutually beneficial to practice law in both jurisdictions.
✓ Agreeing to implement the exchange programmes on recommendations of the Bodies.
• Two-way mobility of lawyers between India and England and Wales:
• Note that BCI and Law Society, for several years, have exchanged information about two-way mobility of lawyers
• Confirm that the English and Welsh legal services market is open for Indian Lawyers and Law Firms
• Affirm that only authorized persons have the right to practice in reserved areas of legal activity
• Accept that BCI has power to regulate the practice of Law in India, including practice of foreign law by foreign lawyers in India on the basis of reciprocity as per BCI Rules for Registration of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022
• The Bodies agreed to make the exchange programme of Advocates/ Solicitors/ Barristers and Training programmes fully successful and practical.
• The Law Society and Bar of England and Whales will provide internships to the BCI recommended law students.
• BCI will be responsible for providing the Solicitor or Barrister, recommended by them, with the opportunity to learn in some reputable law firm or in the office of Senior Advocate.
• BCI will provide opportunity for Solicitor or Barrister to watch the proceedings of Indian Law Courts/ Tribunals and other Forums also dealing with Legal matters, International Arbitrations and/ or Mediation.
• The Law Society and Bar of England and Whales will be responsible for providing trainings in International Law Firms, English Courts, Tribunals, International Arbitration Centres and other International Forums.
• The Bodies will make efforts to facilitate the visa and immigration process.
• The expenses will be borne by the Advocate/ Lawyer/ Solicitor/ Barrister/ Student.
• The maximum period of stay in respective countries cannot exceed 90 days.
• The BCI Rules for Registration of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022 will have overriding effect on this MoU, so far as practice by foreign lawyers in India is concerned.
• to experience and gain knowledge of the practice of law in both jurisdictions, subject to rules and regulations of respective authorities.
• To facilitate the implementation of short-term exchanges of lawyers for training.
• To cross-promote meetings and opportunities for exchange of information regarding current issues of international significance.
• To issue invitations and provide opportunities to participate in meetings, workshops, seminars and conferences in their jurisdictions.
• Mutual benefits for both foreign lawyers and domestic legal profession and professionals.
• The Law Society of England and Wales and the Bar Council of England and Wales: agreed to support the implementation of BCI Rules to permit the practice of English law by English and Welsh lawyers and law firms in India in International Commercial Arbitration and non-litigious matters only, based on Reciprocity.
Note: Reciprocity as defined in Advocates Act, 1961
“(1) Where any country, specified by the Central Government in this behalf by notification in the Official Gazette, prevents citizens of India from practising the profession of law or subjects them to unfair discrimination in that country, no subject of any such country shall be entitled to practise the profession of law in India.
(2) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (1), the Bar Council of India may prescribe the conditions, if any subject to which foreign qualifications in law obtained by persons other than citizens of India shall be recognised for the purpose of admission as an advocate under this Act.”