The Supreme Court of India has ruled that foreign law firms and lawyers have “no absolute right” to conduct international commercial arbitrations in India but that they may not be debarred from conducting arbitration proceedings in India on a “fly in and fly out” basis, subject to their submission to the code of conduct applicable to the legal profession in India. The Supreme Court further said that the Bar Council of India or the Union of India are at liberty to frame rules in this regard.

This decision is following appeals by (i) the Bar Council of India of the Madras High Court decision in February 2012 and (ii) by the ‘Global Indian Lawyers’ organisation of the decision of the High Court in Bombay in December 2009. Such decisions gave permission to foreign lawyers to practice in India without subscribing to the profession in India in the same way that Indian lawyers do.