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10th July 2024

Dinesh Dhamija: Indian Legal Breakthrough

Dinesh Dhamija

 

In a sign of the growing openness of the India market, the Bar Council of India has said it expects to allow UK lawyers and law firms to operate in the country from the end of July this year.

The move comes after some years of discussions and negotiations, including a court case in which the Society of Indian Law Firms tried to block the reforms. Leading Indian lawyers described it as a breakthrough and he president of the Law Society of England and Wales,

Lubna Shuja, called it “a significant step forward…[which] will create huge opportunities for solicitors and Indian advocates in both countries.”

Fellow Law Society head Nick Emmerson, who took part in the negotiations, said: “As both our countries go through historic general elections this year, and the UK-India free trade agreement negotiations continue, our close ties are as important now as they’ve ever been.” It is vitally important for international businesses to be confident of the Indian legal system if they are to conduct the scale of trade that all sides wish to accomplish. For years, there have been gradual reforms of corporate regulations, which have bolstered this confidence, including the 2016 bankruptcy code, which enabled creditors to trigger insolvency proceedings against defaulting companies.

In March 2023, there were initial efforts to liberalise the Indian legal sector and enable overseas firms to operate, but the action by the Society of Indian Law Firms postponed that until now. While there remains some resistance to reform, leading Indian lawyers such as

Crrill Shroff at Cyril Amarchand Mangalas are enthusiastic about the prospect of more openness. “It will align with the India story of more global investment coming to take India to the next level, so there’ll be more quality work,” he said. There will be a greater focus on modernisation.”

With US firms increasingly seeking to divert business away from a hostile China, Indian leaders recognise the urgency to harmonise their legal and commercial systems with international norms, to capitalise on the potential wave of inward investment. A rash of articles have appeared with headlines such as ‘For American Brands Worried About China, Is India the Future?’ based on projections such as Walmart’s plan to source $10 billion worth of goods from India by 2027, up from $3 billion in 2020. European importers are equally bullish. The prospect of a second Trump presidential term could accelerate this trend, pushing American firms further away from China and towards India.

Indian legal eagles are rubbing their hands in expectation.

Dinesh Dhamija founded, built and sold online travel agency ebookers.com, before serving as a Member of the European Parliament. Since then, he has created the largest solar PV and hydrogen businesses in Romania. Dinesh’s latest book is The Indian Century – buy it from Amazon at https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1738441407/

 

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