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GAR 100 - 12th Edition

Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas

05 April 2019

Representing Indian investors in a treaty claim against Macedonia

People in Who's Who Legal 2
Pending cases as counsel 15
Value of pending counsel work US$970 million
Treaty cases 2
Third-party funded cases 0
Current arbitrator appointments 1 (1 as chair or sole)
Lawyers sitting as arbitrator 1

The dissolution of India’s largest law firm, Amarchand & Mangaldas Suresh A Shroff & Co, in 2015 put an end to a dispute between brothers Shardul and Cyril Shroff over control of the firm after the death of their mother, allowing each to set up his own successor firm. Even as separate entities, they remain among the biggest in the Indian market.

The legacy practice had long enjoyed a reputation as a safe pair of hands for arbitration in India, appearing in the GAR 100 for several years in succession.

Shardul’s wife, Pallavi Shroff, oversaw the legacy dispute resolution practice and has the same role today, also serving as Shardul Amarchand’s managing partner. She’s a hugely respected name in the Indian legal and business community.

The international arbitration practice group is headed by partner Tejas Karia in Delhi, where most of the team is based. The firm recruited Rishab Gupta from Allen & Overy in 2016 to help build the group in Mumbai. Another partner, Siddhartha Datta, is based in Kolkata.

The firm has seven offices across India.

Who uses it?

Recent clients include Korean state owned power corporation Korea South East, OCI Corporation, Motorola, JP Morgan and Spanish railway group CAF. Cairn Energy, Singapore’s Ravva Oil and Videocon, joint venture partners in the Ravva oil field in Andhra Pradesh, have also used the firm in various matters.

US-based law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan has also retained the firm to defend it in an anti-arbitration suit filed by textile company Spentex Industries (now known as CLC Industries) before the High Court of Delhi.

Track record

The new firm inherited some big cases. Alongside Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom, it is co-counsel to a group of telecoms investors in a treaty claim against India related to the cancellation of a satellite deal. The case saw a largely favourable award on liability in 2016 and is awaiting an award of damages.

The same team helped Bangalore-based Devas Multimedia win US$672 million in an ICC claim against Indian state-owned entity Antrix in 2015 relating to the same cancelled deal.

The firm also represented Vikram Bakshi, a former joint venture partner of McDonald’s, in an LCIA claim brought by the fast food chain. In 2017, a tribunal majority ordered Bakshi to sell his stake, ruling that McDonald’s had legally terminated the joint venture contract.

In recent cases, it has acted for Videocon Industries in two long-running arbitrations against the Indian government and an Indian client in an LCIA dispute with a US trust fund.

It has also represented a JPMorgan entity in an LCIA claim over a real estate investment; a French food and beverage multinational in a SIAC case against a distributor; and Malaysia’s M3nergy in a claim against India’s state-owned Hindustan Petroleum Corporation. It has even acted for SIAC itself, representing the arbitral institution in Indian Supreme Court proceedings.

Recent events

The firm is acting for the Binani family in a US$250 million bilateral investment treaty claim against Macedonia – one of the few occasions Indian investors have commenced proceedings under an Indian BIT. The case relates to the alleged expropriation of lead and zinc mining concessions.

It successfully represented Korean company OCI Corporation in Indian court proceedings to enforce a GAFTA (Grain and Feed Trade Association) award rendered in a London arbitration. The result was a landmark decision on the determination of the previously unsettled position under amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 and introduction of the Commercial Courts Act 2015.  The judgment clarifies the confusion regarding appeals in arbitration cases under the Commercial Courts Act and holds that the Arbitration Act is a special statute for matters relating to arbitration. 

It had another good result for Krishnapatnam Port Company in a claim brought against it by a foreign investor.  In its final award, the tribunal declined the foreign investor’s claim for damages and held that a foreign investor cannot exit an Indian company at a price beyond the fair value of its shareholding. 

The firm has been instructed by Korean state owned power company, Korea South East, in a SIAC claim against its Indian partner.  The Korean power company filed a claim in late December 2017, seeking to recover over US$7 million it claims it is owed under an agreement to construct a coal-based power plant.  This has prompted a US$600 million counterclaim by the Indian company.

There have been a number of promotions to the partnership including Rishab Gupta, who leads the firm’s arbitration practice in Mumbai, Meghna Rajadhyaksha (also in Mumbai), and Surjendu Sankar Das and Smarika Singh in New Delhi. 

Pallavi Shroff was appointed as a member of ICC court, and was one of 11 members appointed to a new India steering committee devoted to promoting gender equality in arbitral appointments following the launch of the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge in India last year.

Tejas Karia was appointed as director of the India branch of Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, while the Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration appointed Rishab Gupta to its Young MCIA steering committee.

Insight

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