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GAR 100 - 11th Edition

Economic Laws Practice

05 April 2018

The Indian firm has boosted its international expertise with a hire from Singapore

Pending cases as counsel 8
Value of pending counsel work US$1.2 billion

Economic Laws Practice was formed in 2001 with a focus on commercial and tax law. Its arbitration practice was co-founded four years later by Vikram Nankani and Madhur Baya. Nankani left in 2015 after being appointed senior counsel, two years after Baya left to set up his own firm.

The practice is now led by Naresh Thacker in Mumbai, with support from Akshay Kishore in Mumbai – who joined in 2017 from Ashurst in Singapore – and Ashish Prasad in New Delhi.

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?

Some of India’s large business houses – including, Reliance, Larsen & Toubro, and Essar – are clients. Indian property tycoon Niranjan Hiranandani has used the firm in a high-profile dispute with his daughter (see below).

Most of Adani Group’s arbitrations are conducted by ELP, whether in the coal, 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. It also counts Indian multinational Welspun and Anglo-Swiss chemicals company Ineos as clients. Sony Pictures and UAE based engineering procurement company Global Supplies are also 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.

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 2016.

In court, the firm 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.

The firm successfully defended Malaysian client IMARTEK against a claim of more than US$55 million brought by Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, also winning a US$4 million counterclaim.

ELP helped Sony Pictures Network prevail in a dispute with leading Indian actor Dhanush over the commercial exploitation of a dubbed version of a Tamil movie. The client succeeded in its claims and the parties reached a settlement on agreed terms.

Recent events

The firm represented ISGEC Heavy Industries in an ICC arbitration against ATTS Inc which had brought claims of over US$12.5 million. The matter was settled before the final hearing, with the firm significantly reducing the settlement to a value of US$1.75 million.

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.

The firm is representing the UAE’s Global Supplies in a variety of ICC arbitrations, including a US$42 million dispute with Toshiba and a US$47 million dispute with heavy industry company Posco Plantec.

ELP is also defending Essar Oil against claims brought by Indian Oil Corporation concerning a “take or pay” obligation in a gas supply agreement. The dispute has been valued at over US$103 million.

It 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.

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