India sends a signal to foreign law firms

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foreign firms in India legal battle
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The long-running saga of foreign law firms in India continues. Now a Chinese law firm is among 30 non-Indian firms that have been served with notices to defend a writ petition in the Madras High Court in Chennai. The petition explicitly aims to put an end to the involvement of foreign firms in the India market.

DeHeng Law Offices is the only Chinese firm among the 30 on the list. The other respondents are (in the order listed): Ashurst; Kelley Drye & Warren; Kennedys; White & Case; Linklaters; Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer; Allen & Overy; Clifford Chance; Wilmer Hale; Shearman & Sterling; Herbert Smith; Slaughter and May; Hogan & Hartson; Davis Polk & Wardwell; Eversheds; Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld; Paul Weiss Rifkind Wharton & Garrison; Norton Rose; Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman; Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati; Arnold & Porter; Covington & Burling; Perkins Coie; Loyens & Loeff; Freehills; Clayton Utz; Mayer Brown; Clyde & Co; and Bird and Bird. Rouse, an intellectual property firm, also appears.

An affidavit in the original writ petition stated that “various international law firms … have opened up offices in India or in neighbouring countries and are operating the legal practice within India, such as mergers, take-overs, acquisitions, amalgamations etc. and are into various commercial transactions, arbitrations so on and so forth. Moreover, the advocates from various foreign law firms are often visiting India and conducting seminars in various parts of our country. They are entering into India through visitor’s visa but the actual intention of their visit is to indirectly market and earn money out of clients from India by way of seminars. Moreover they are also conducting arbitration in Indian hotels and for which the payments are made to their head office located outside India. This is complete violation of our country’s income tax laws, immigration laws and loss of revenue to our country. Similar to this there are numerous foreign law firms that are draining our Indian legal market.”

China Business Law Journal’s sister publication, India Business Law Journal, understands that the case has been adjourned until 5 October.

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