RBI directs Banks not to approve proposals of Foreign Law Firms to open branch office in India [Read Circular]

RBI directs Banks not to approve proposals of Foreign Law Firms to open branch office in India [Read Circular]

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The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) on Monday asked banks not to approve any proposal of foreign law firms to open a branch office, project office, or liaison office in the country under the Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (FEMA) for the purpose of practicing the legal profession.

The Circular was issued in view of a Supreme Court order wherein the apex court held that advocates enrolled under the Advocates Act, 1961 alone are entitled to practice law in India and foreign law firms or foreign lawyers cannot practice the profession of law.

“As such, foreign law firms/companies or foreign lawyers or any other person resident outside India, are not permitted to establish any branch office, project office, liaison office or other places of business in India for the purpose of practicing the legal profession,” the RBI said in the circular.

Accordingly, the RBI directed AD Category-I banks not to grant any approval to any branch office, project office, liaison office, or another place of business in India under FEMA for the purpose of practicing the legal profession in India. Further, they shall bring to the notice of the Reserve Bank in case any such violation of the provisions of the Advocates Act comes to their notice.

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