The Delhi Bar Council is acting on the ongoing charges of surrogate law practice and has now banned the Big Four from practicing law or offering any legal services. The Big Four, for those who do not know, includes KPMG, Deloitte, EY, and PwC. As a part of this, the Delhi Bar Council has also asked these firms to hand over a list of all the advocates that are working under them. This includes advocates even working in very small capacities.
This whole thing came into the limelight when the President of the Society of Indian Law Firms, Lalit Bhasin, formed a formal complaint against these companies offering legal services. The Society of Indian Law Firms includes over 100 different bodies of law firms so the complaint is one that holds a lot of weight. Though the action is just now being undertaken, it is something that has been in the works for a while.
Source – BarandBench
Lalit Bhasin had filed this complaint way back in 2015, on the grounds that these companies were offering an unauthorized practice of law, which basically went in violation of the Advocates Act of India. His main bone of contention was with the fact that these companies also offered legal services and advice, which they are not supposed to do as per Indian law. In fact, he believes that there is absolutely no justification that allows such accounting firms and audit firms to offer non-litigation services and enter legal practice.
However, according to the President of the CA Institute, Praveen Gupta, there is a different way that we can look at things. He said “One needs to see whether the Bar Council has the power to pass such directions to CA firms. I feel this is an encroachment into ICAI’s (Institute of Chartered Accountants of India) jurisdiction. The Big Four multinational accountancy firms’ existence is governed by ICAI regulations and code…as such, why should a CA firm follow the Bar Council’s order? Such guidance should come from the ICAI Council,”
The Managing Partner at ASC Legal, Aseem Chawla, weighed in on the matter too. He said “It is time for the leadership of ICAI to realize that it has been ineffective in being able to discharge this solemn function,”
Only time will show what kind of judgment the court passes, but do you think that the Big 4 should be allowed to pass legal advice?