George Osborne today announced a raft of trade deals with his counterpart in India that include opening up the country’s legal market to foreign lawyers.
The chancellor and Indian Finance Minister Arun Jaitley have reached a number of agreements following the eighth UK-India Economic and Financial Dialogue (EFD) in London, according to a joint announcement by the Treasury and Foreign Office. These include ’liberalising the Indian legal services market to allow foreign lawyers the right to operate in India’.
The announcement adds: ’This will act as a catalyst for international investment in India and give businesses the access they need to international legal advice. It will also bring new opportunities for the UK profession, who will benefit from being offered similar rights to those that Indian firms already enjoy in the UK, allowing them to enter partnerships with Indian firms and bring their specialist expertise to India.’
Last November it emerged that the Law Society, Bar Council of England and Wales and the Bar Council of India were drawing up a memorandum of understanding on opening up the market, following over 20 years of stalled initiatives. The Bar Council of India dropped its long-standing opposition to liberalising its home market a few months earlier, removing one of the main obstacles to a deal.
Justice minister Shailesh Vara said he commended Jaitley’s commitment. ‘This is a cause that I have been championing personally for many years, ever since I saw the value liberalisation would bring when working as a solicitor,’ he added.
‘The UK’s experience of an open legal services sector has been a hugely positive one, giving business the access it needs to international legal advice and helping make London the global hub it has become.’
Vara said his department ‘stands ready’ to help the Indian government ‘progress this important reform in any way that would be helpful’.