22/7/2016 by Katherine Memery
India has long been hailed as one of the world’s most exciting developing markets. The country’s growing economy together with its young population has created a wealth of opportunity for international business.
The UK has traditionally cherished its commercial relationship with India; it is currently the largest major investor in India in the G20 and India invests more money in the UK than in the rest of Europe combined. India’s emergence as an investment hotspot has reinforced the importance of this partnership. However, the Indian legal market has been notoriously difficult to crack, as the sector has been closed to international lawyers. Up until now, that is.
For over two decades, attempts have been made to persuade the Indian government to liberalise the country’s legal sector. At the end of last year, The Bar Council of India (BCI) and the Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF) had a change of heart and dropped their resistance to the concept.
The country’s new generation of internationally-minded lawyers recognise the huge benefits in widening their field of practice and working with foreign firms. Following talks between the Indian government and the nation’s leading lawyers, India is now set to open up its legal sector to the rest of the world within the next five years in order to fully participate in the global market.
Once the restrictions are dropped, India will soon become an epicentre for the capital's mega-firms. At the moment, UK multinationals are forced to run their Indian offices from London or Hong Kong. The plans to liberalise the market will mean that they will be able to open offices in India, practice non-Indian law in the country and even be able to enter into a partnership with an Indian firm.
These changes will bring greater opportunity for both foreign and Indian lawyers. Solicitors at top London firms will benefit from similar rights to those already enjoyed by Indian firms in the UK and will be able to share their legal expertise with their Indian counterparts.
What’s more, for global firms impacted by Brexit, the timing couldn’t be better. A new door will soon be opening and lawyers will be able to look further afield than Europe. With India on the cusp of broadening its horizons and welcoming international firms, it is a new and exciting prospect for both newly qualified and established UK lawyers. Whereas in the past, those wanting to work overseas turned to Australia, Singapore or the Middle East, they will soon be able to look to the metropolises of Mumbai, Delhi and Bangalore.
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