Road map for reform


Lalit Bhasin, the president of the Society of Indian Law Firms, explains why he now supports the phased entry of foreign law firms

The government of India, in consultation with the country’s legal profession, is in the process of formulating its position with regard to opening the legal services sector to foreign legal practitioners. The government is of the view that the competitiveness and attractiveness to foreign investors of India’s manufacturing sector will improve only if we improve the quality of our services sector. We thus need to introduce reforms in our legal services market. The government has underlined the need to ensure that any such reforms are gradual and calibrated. This is particularly important given the sensitivities of the legal fraternity on this issue.

Lalit Bhasin
Lalit Bhasin

The government has set up a high profile inter-ministerial group (IMG) under the chairmanship of Rajeev Kher, the commerce secretary, to prepare a road map for reforming and opening the legal services sector in India.

The road map will comprise two broad phases. Phase I will introduce domestic regulatory reforms and the simultaneous partial liberalization of the sector, including the opening up of international arbitration and mediation services and advisory services in foreign law and international law. The opening up is likely to be spread over a period of five to seven years. Phase II will go a step further with the proposed opening of certain advisory and non-litigious services in Indian law.

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Lalit Bhasin is the president of the Society of Indian Law Firms.