RBI Reiterates its Position on Banks Granting Approval for Foreign Law Firms Opening Liaisoning Offices (LOs) in the Country.
The nation’s central bank vide circular dated 23/11/2020 [A.P. (DIR Series) Circular No. 07] has reiterated its stance that no “no fresh permissions/ renewal of permission shall be granted by the Reserve Bank/AD Category-I banks to any foreign law firm for opening of Liaison Office in India”.
The RBI has issued an earlier circular in this regard on 29/10/2015 [A. P. (DIR Series) Circular No. 23], stating that per the directions of the Supreme Court of India in the then ongoing matter of Bar Council of India vs. A.K. Balaji and Ors. no such permission should be granted to any law firm while the matter is pendente lite.
The SC has recently disposed of the aforementioned case and coming to the conclusion that only “advocates enrolled under the Advocates Act, 1961 alone are entitled to practice law in India and that foreign law firms/companies or foreign lawyers cannot practice profession of law in India. As such, 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.”