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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Economic Laws Practice

05 April 2019

Based in Mumbai and Delhi, the practice is advising a UAE client on cases with no direct link to India

Pending cases as counsel 5
Value of pending counsel work US$3 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 and Ashish Prasad in 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 and Delhi, though the firm also has team members in Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Pune.

Who uses it?

Large Indian businesses including the Tata group, Reliance, Larsen & Toubro, Essar, Welspun and Sterlite Technologies. Most of Adani Group’s arbitrations are conducted by ELP, whether in the coal, commodities or oil and gas sectors. Indian property tycoon Niranjan Hiranandani has also used the firm.

International clients of note include Dubai Ports World, APM Terminals (part of Denmark’s Maersk Group), Sony Pictures, US-based XCoal Energy and Resources and Honeywell International, Germany’s RWE and Anglo-Swiss chemicals company Ineos.  

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 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.

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.

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

UAE-based engineering procurement company Global Supplies has been using ELP in three separate ICC disputes with no direct link to India. 

One of these cases recently ended well for ELP’s client; the firm brought a jurisdictional challenge, which was accepted by the tribunal, and Japanese company Elliott Ebara Turbomachinery Corporation withdrew its claims. Two other cases are ongoing. In one, the firm is defending the client against a US$47 million claim brought by Korean company POSCO Plantec over supply of equipment for the expansion of an oil refinery. In the other, Global Supplies is claiming over US$42 million against Toshiba. 

The firm achieved a good result when it helped two of India’s largest seed companies settle disputes with a US-based biotech major arising out of a sub-licence agreement for commercial use of technology for genetically modified seeds.

ELP been representing two arms of the Tata group – Tata Sons and Tata Capital Financial Services – in parallel arbitrations against an Indian company and its Seychelles promoter. The claims exceed US$150 million.

In another case, the firm is advising DSM Sinochem Pharmaceuticals in challenging a US$47 million award in favour of Hindustan Antibiotics over the manufacture of penicillin. Proceedings are pending before the Pune District Court and High Court of Bombay.

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.

Rhia Marshall Banerjee in Mumbai and Mahfooz Nazki and Mukta Dutta in Delhi were promoted to partner.

Mumbai-based partner Akshay Kishore, who joined in 2017 from Ashurst in Singapore, left the firm.

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