AZB & Partners

India

Review

Dispute resolution

The formidable AZB & Partners has a seasoned and respected dispute resolution team comprising some of the leading practitioners in the market. The firm has offices in Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore, with no less than 21 disputes partners covering the full range of practice areas. Its core strength is corporate disputes, stemming from its top-tier M&A, competition and private equity transactional practices. There is an increasing trend, however, where clients are generated by the disputes team independent of the firm’s other transactional areas. Arbitration is another key strength for the team, having played leading roles in landmark decisions that have sculpted the domestic arbitration landscape. Recently, the firm has forayed into emerging areas of practice, for example handling disputes in the realm of new technology such as high frequency trading technology, fintech, privacy and technology regulation. It has been gaining experience also in third-party litigation and arbitration.

Noted partners include Rajendra Barot, Vijayendra Pratap, Aditya Vikram Bhat and Sonali Mathur. Market legend and rainmaker Zia Mody specialises in commercial litigation and arbitration, regulatory and white-collar crime.

In a high-profile matter, the team is defending the National Stock Exchange of India (NSEI) against a suit commenced by the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI). These proceedings arise from an extensive investigation by SEBI into the affairs of NSEI and involve questions on the parameters of a direction of disgorgement in securities laws and the scope of “fair and equitable” standard to be adopted by stock exchanges.

Another marquee litigation has the team championing Amazon.com for its international arbitration against the Future Group. The case spotlights the first Emergency Award under Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) arbitration enforced in India. The matter involved various issues inter alia, legal status of an emergency arbitrator and its order, validity of incorporating institutional rules which provide for emergency arbitration while the governing law is silent on the issue, the doctrine of group of companies and non-signatory as a party to an arbitration. The Supreme Court has upheld the validity of the Emergency Award. The verdict of the land’s top court has altered India’s arbitration landscape as the determination of validity and the legal status of emergency arbitration is a first of a kind and a landmark judgement in the Indian arbitration jurisprudence with far-reaching impact internationally.

The AZB team continues to assist HSBC in the enforcement proceedings of an SIAC award before the High Court of Bombay, proceedings for interim reliefs and the contempt proceedings before the Supreme Court of India. The SIAC award grants HSBC’s claim of $60 million against Avitel Post Studioz and its promoters. The enforcement proceedings have been resisted by the counterparty, inter alia, on grounds of the inarbitrability of issues settled by the arbitral tribunal, violation of the principles of natural justice, a bias of members of the arbitral tribunal, and that the enforcement of the SIAC award would violate the public policy of India. This Supreme Court decision on the critical issue of fraud and arbitrability is a landmark arbitration-related judgement.

Noteworthy moves last year include the hirings of partner Ram Kumar Poornachandran from TT&A and counsel Richa Srivastava from his own independent practice. Competition partner Aditi Gopalakrishnan left for an in-house role at Google.

The firm boasts some of the corporate world’s biggest stars as loyal disputes clients, such as Facebook, IHH Healthcare, KKR, KPMG, Nissan Motors, and Tata Steel. Recent clients include Duff & Phelps India, India Ratings and Research, Reserve Bank of India, Film & Television Producers Guild of India, the National Stock Exchange of India and Western Geco International.

Client feedback

“Quality advice and representation including wide network with local lawyers.” – Commercial and transactions

“Effective in arguments based on their legal research and analysis.” – Competition and antitrust

“They are very knowledgeable on trademark and copyright laws.” – Intellectual property

Samir Gandhi

“He is logical in advising clients, and prepares and argues well.”

Akhlesh Rai

“Very knowledgeable and a good client manager.”

Kamal Shankar

“He gives expert and practical advice, is available at short notice, and is well connected within India. He is fully conversant with local practices and local strategies.”