Acting on a complaint filed by Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF), the Bar Council of Delhi (BCD) has directed the Big Four Accounting Firms – KPMG, Price Water House Coopers, Ernst & Young, and Deloitte India to refrain from indulging in any practice which would amount to practising law until further orders.
The Bar Council has also directed them to give a list of all the advocates, who have been engaged by them, in any capacity, in any of their offices at any place.
The complaint was filed by Senior AdvocateLalit Bhasin, President of The Society of Indian Law Firms. In the complaint, Bhasin has alleged that the 4 big multinational audit and accounting firms have been unauthorizedly practicing law.
While Chartered accountants are governed by the Chartered Accountants Act, 1949, legal practice is governed by the Advocates Act, 1961. Yet, the accounting firms have been encroaching into the domain of legal practice by offering non-litigation services, it has been argued. Such a practice of hiring law graduates to provide non-litigation legal solutions is in contravention of the Advocates Act, 1961.
This is not the first time that this issue has been raised, earlier in 2015, a similar complaint was filed by SILF before BCD to seek appropriate legal action against the Big 4 firms who were allegedly engaging in unauthorised practice of law.
In November 2018, an expert panel constituted by the ministry of corporate affairs (MCA) had also recommended an amendment to the Advocates Act to allow audit firms to offer legal services, Economic Times reported.
The matter would be heard on July 12, 2019.