Liberalisation of the Indian legal market

The research for the 2017 RSG India Report was undertaken during a time of regulatory change in India. The government, under Modi, plans to liberalise the Indian legal market to allow foreign firms to practice in India. It is said to be a 'top priority for Prime Minister Narendra Modihowever, it has yet to come into force.

Our research shows that many Indian and foreign lawyers see the most resistance of the liberalisation coming from the Indian National Bar Association (INAB). However, what did the people that were interviewed during the research process think about the liberalisation?

The majority of the Indian lawyers that we spoke to believed that the Indian legal market would liberalise. However, whilst seen as inevitable, when and how this would happen was unknown. Several firms thought that liberalisation would not happen in the near future because of continued opposition from Indian law firms, particularly the older, more traditional law firms.

On the other hand, the sentiment from foreign firms was optimistic. The majority believe that iberalisation would have a beneficial effect on the market improving India’s place and competitiveness in the global world. Multinational corporations carry some reluctance on investing in India currently, and this would help encourage investment and subsequent growth in India.

Overall, clients would like to see the market open up. This follows the belief that greater competition would to lead to an improvement in lawyer quality. Other benefits of the market opening up are greater professionalism, better career development opportunities and the standardisation of processes. In contrast, clients that are against liberalisation fear that it will mean an increase in legal fees.