Bar Council of India Signs Memorandum of Understanding with Bar Council and Law Society of England & Wales to Establish Lawyers’ Exchange Programme

The Bar Council of India (BCI) has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Bar Council and Law Society of England & Wales to facilitate an exchange programme for lawyers between the three countries. The signing of the MoU marks a significant step towards mutual learning and training opportunities in the legal profession.

The MoU was formalized on June 5, 2023, during a meeting held in London, attended by delegates from the BCI, the Chairman of the Bar Council of India, the President of the Bar Council of England and Wales, as well as the President of the Law Society of England and Wales.

Under the agreement, the BCI has been authorized to recommend young lawyers to the Law Society and the Bar Council of England & Wales, providing them with opportunities for training and learning in international law firms, esteemed law offices, and English law courts. It is important to note that this does not grant them the right to practice in the United Kingdom; rather, the purpose of the MoU is to facilitate a valuable learning experience about each other’s legal systems.

The lawyers recommended by the BCI will gain valuable exposure to the field of international arbitration and have the opportunity to visit renowned international law firms and the offices of accomplished solicitors and barristers. According to the terms of the MoU, the 90-day program for solicitors and barristers from England and Wales will be limited to training and learning activities, with no permission to practice in any form in India.

In a press release, Manan Kumar Mishra, Chairman of the BCI, expressed optimism about the MoU’s potential to foster the exchange of legal acumen, skills, training, and ideas between the legal fraternities of both countries. He further acknowledged the need for crucial changes in the regulations regarding the entry of foreign lawyers in India and stated that once these changes are made, the registration of foreign lawyers and law firms will commence.

BCI Vice Chairman, Mr. S. Prabakaran, also addressed the issue, stating that the BCI welcomes input from Indian law firms and members of the Indian Bar. He emphasized that the opinions of foreign bodies on this matter would be taken into account as well.

Importantly, the MoU does not govern or touch upon the practice of foreign or UK lawyers in India or vice versa in the UK, including international commercial arbitration or matters related to the laws of their respective countries. These issues remain under the purview of the Bar Council of India’s Rules for Registration and Regulation of Foreign Lawyers and Foreign Law Firms in India, 2022. However, the BCI is considering revisiting these rules to address concerns raised by law firms and lawyers in India and abroad.

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