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GAR 100 - 9th Edition

Economic Laws Practice

18 February 2016

Back in the 100 under new leadership

Pending cases as counsel 13
Value of pending counsel work US$817 million
Treaty cases 0

Economic Laws Practice was formed in 2001. Its arbitration practice was co-founded four years later by senior partner Vikram Nankani and Madhur Baya, incorporating many lawyers who had built a reputation in tax disputes work.

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

The practice is now led by managing partner Rohan Shah and new associate partner Sumit Rai, and overseen by disputes practice head Naresh Thacker.

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), Hiranandani (in a complex arbitration under Indian law involving a claim for US$700 million) and Reliance.

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 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 ICC successes 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 traderand 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 – and 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 an ELP victory.

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.

It also acted for an Indian client in arbitration-related court proceedings in London, securing an important breather in the multi-jurisdictional case that paved the way for a settlement.

Recent events

The practice won a US$15 million in a Singapore-seated arbitration under Singapore law for refrigeration company Voltas as co-counsel with Allen & Gledhill. In London it won an English law arbitration for Indian aviation company Karnavati against an agent of helicopter manufacturer Augusta.

Aside from its change in leaders, Ashish Prasad joined the firm as a new partner in Delhi.