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GAR 100 - 10th Edition

Economic Laws Practice

08 March 2017

Defended a property tycoon in a high-profile family dispute at LCIA India

Pending cases as counsel 7
Value of pending counsel work US$1.4 billion
Treaty cases 0

Economic Laws Practice was formed in 2001. Its arbitration practice was co-founded four years later, incorporating many lawyers who had built a reputation in tax disputes work.

Baya left in 2013 to set up his own practice, Lex Arbitri, while Nankani left this year after being appointed Senior Counsel, which obliged him to set up independently.

The practice is now led by Naresh Thacker, who was originally practice head for dispute resolution. Suhail Nathani is now managing partner, after former managing partner Rohan Shah left to set up as an independent counsel in October 2016.

Originally, the practice didn’t deal with disputes worth more than US$20,000. Now, the figure can range from US$10 million to several hundred million dollars. Its clients are in sectors as diverse as mining, commodities, engineering and construction, shipping, insurance, infrastructure, and equipment and services.

It has conducted arbitrations in India, England, Singapore, South Korea, Germany and the US under a variety of international laws and institutional rules.

Network

Most of the team is based in Mumbai, though the firm also has team members in Delhi, Ahmedabad and Pune.

Who uses it?

The firm has been instructed by some of India’s large business houses – including Tata (in disputes with Aditya Birla Group and Idea Telecom) and Reliance. Indian property tycoon Niranjan Hiranandani has used the firm in a high-profile dispute with his daughter (see below). 

All of Adani Group’s arbitrations are conducted by ELP, whether in the coal and carbon, commodities or oil and gas sectors.

Multinational clients include engineering and construction group McDermott and Sterlite Technologies, which is a subsidiary of the Vedanta oil and gas group, and Malaysian crane manufacturer IMPSA, for whom it is acting in an ad hoc arbitration against Jawaharlal Nehru Port, India’s largest port. It also counts Indian multinational Welspun and Anglo-Swiss chemicals company Ineos as clients.

Track record

The firm’s reported successes at the ICC include representing India’s largest metal and mining company in a product liability claim against a German company; a Swiss multinational coal trader in a dispute with a Singapore subsidiary of India’s largest coal traders; and one of the largest Indian engineering companies in a dispute over a US$200 million EPC contract awarded in Singapore.

It also successfully represented India’s largest privately owned port in an ad hoc arbitration under English law against a state-owned insurance company – the first major insurance claim under a port package policy in India. Another client was a manufacturer of oil and gas exploration and production equipment in an ad hoc arbitration with a government enterprise over a contract for the supply of production platforms.

A case on behalf of one of the parties to a US$50 million split that involved a complex web of cross-holdings in shareholdings and properties also led to a victory for ELP.

In court, it succeeded in defending the joinder of a third party to an arbitration agreement in a Singapore arbitration by invoking “alter ego” principles. The third party had moved the Indian court to suspend the arbitration.

Recent events

Together with DLA Piper, ELP defended Niranjan Hiranandani and his son Darshan against an LCIA India claim by his daughter Priya Hiranandani Vandrevala over a deal to develop property in India. Most of her US$500 million claim was knocked out, with a tribunal awarding only US$60 million against ELP’s clients in May 2016. A freezing order against Darshan’s assets was discharged by a Dubai court in February 2017.

At SIAC it is lead counsel in an ongoing English-seated dispute between Dutch and Bangladeshi parties involving both English and Bangladeshi law. It is also representing an Indian engineering client in a dispute with a Colombian party under an exclusive agency agreement.

ELP appeared in the first-ever arbitration at the new Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration, for the local subsidiary of a German conglomerate seeking payment for a coal delivery from Indonesia. The dispute was conducted under LCIA rules.

Associate partner Sumit Rai, who co-led the practice with Shah, left to set up an independent practice. In January 2017 the firm hired a new partner in Akshay Kishore, who joins from Ashurst in Singapore.