Several lawyers in the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu is seeking out  government action against 31 foreign law organizations and a legal process outsourcing (LPO) company for practicing law illegally out of five star hotels as well as  business centers.

A petition for a writ persuading the government to act against overseas lawyers was filed in the Chennai  High Court by a lawyer on behalf of a group called the Association of Indian Lawyers. Inspite of the  fact  that global law firms are previously banned from having offices in India which  is a restriction strengthened by a Bombay High Court decision in December,a member of the group behind the writ has informed that other means by which foreign firms operate in India need  also be targeted.

One of  the association members stated that the issue is no longer regarding the entry of foreign law firms,but  it is also regarding  the manner in which these foreign law firms continue to do business in India inspite of  a ban on them. These firms have already entered India in a roundabout way and are operating out of five star hotels and business centers.

According to the writ,the association is mostly targeting corporate practice, which is less clearly proscribed than litigation. Though the focus point of foreign firms is  mainly on cross-border transactions, the group seems to take the position that any task by foreign firms actually taking place in India should be prohibited. The writ also targets foreign lawyers taking part in conferences and seminars in India.The writ alleges that additonally, the advocates from various overseas law firms are frequently visiting India and conducting seminars in several parts of  the country. The advocates enter India through visitor's visa but the real intention of their visit is to ultimately market and earn money out of clients from India by  means of seminars.

The writ also targets  how some firms have opened offices in neighboring countries. The reference is likely to Singapore, which has become the chosen base for Indian practices of global law firms.Foreign lawyers should only be permitted to work in India, the writ argues, if there are options for Indian lawyers to practice in the U.S. or U.K.

A copy of the writ is also available here