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A joint consultative conference of the Bar Council of India and state bar councils has unanimously urged the Centre not to open up the Indian legal profession to foreign lawyers and not to take any unilateral decision in this regard.

Releasing the resolutions adopted at the end of the two-day conference here this evening, Bar Council of India Chairman S Gopakumaran Nair said the meet protested against the Central Government's stand in a counter-affidavit in the Mumbai High Court, which stated that the 'Advocates Act' had nothing to do with and did not bar practice of foreign lawyers in India.

"The Central Government should not take any decision on entry of foreign lawyers and law firms into India without obtaining the approval of the Bar Council of India," he added.

The conference also authorised the Bar Council of India to interact with the Central Law and Justice, and Trade and Commerce Ministries and with the law councils and law societies of other countries on the principle of reciprocity, to ascertain the detailed procedure of reciprocal arrangements and restriction imposed on Indian lawyers to practise in other countries.

In other resolutions adopted at the conference, the Central Government was urged to amend the Advocates Act to prescribe periodic renewal/re-registration by all advocates with the bar councils. An upper age limit of 40 should be stipulated for enrolment, the meet said.

It also urged the Centre to institutionalise arbitration proceedings to fix the fee, venue and the number of sittings and also enlist competent advocates to be appointed as arbitrators, mediators and conciliators.

The meet also resolved to amend the Rules of Professional Conduct and Ethics to permit advocates to provide information on websites regarding their standing, qualification and speciality.

It also passed resolutions favouring a uniform scheme for advocates' welfare all over the country and also a common model by-law for all bar associations in the country.

The meet was attended by representatives of the Bar Council of India and about 80 delegates from 18 state bar councils.

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