Premature plans

Business Law Journal, letter to the editor

Dear Sir,

The current proposal for the liberalization of the Indian legal market is premature, given the structural and regulatory differences between Indian and foreign firms.

There is an unequal environment that needs to be corrected first. If liberalization is unavoidable it must be done with robust safeguards for independent law firms and to prevent international firms from using surrogate firms to work around the regulations.

A clear vision and a road map for development of the legal market, with proper space for both Indian and foreign firms, is necessary. An informed debate with relevant industry players and different stakeholders must precede any move. No such debate with the real stakeholders has occurred as yet in a transparent environment.

Moreover, any step towards liberalization should be taken in a multilateral WTO environment, borrowing from the examples and extensive experience of other markets such as Japan and Korea, which have handled liberalization without destroying the local fabric and allowing local firms to co-exist.

The fate of our accounting firms must not befall the independent legal firms. They have all but perished.

What is needed is a clear and statesmanlike vision articulated by our government and other stakeholders for the future of the legal market and not a unilateral or hasty deregulation.

Cyril Shroff
Partner, Amarchand Mangaldas