GAR 100 - 14th Edition

Economic Laws Practice

Economic Laws Practice

Professional notice

Representing an Indian regional government in a billion-dollar dispute over an abandoned power plant

Pending cases as counsel7
Value of pending counsel workUS$990 million
Treaty cases as counsel0
Third-party funded cases0

Economic Laws Practice was formed in 2001 with a focus on commercial and tax law. Its arbitration practice was founded four years later by Vikram Nankani and Madhur Baya. Baya left to set up his own firm in 2013; two years later Nankani, who had by then been appointed senior counsel, also moved on.

The practice is now led by Naresh Thacker in Mumbai. Thacker has over two decades of disputes experience under his belt and is dual-qualified in India and England and Wales.

Originally, the practice didn’t deal with disputes worth more than US$20,000. Now, the figure can range from US$10 million to over US$1 billion. 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, Switzerland and the US, under a variety of international laws and institutional rules.

Network

Most of the 15-strong practice is based in Mumbai and Delhi, though the firm also has team members in Ahmedabad, Bangalore, Chennai and Pune.

Who uses it?

Large Indian businesses including the Tata Group, Reliance, Bank of India, 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, Dubai Aviation Corporation, APM Terminals (part of Denmark’s Maersk Group), Sony Pictures, Google, US-based XCoal Energy and Resources, Honeywell International, Singapore’s Trafigura Group, Malaysian monorail specialists Scomi Group, Germany’s RWE, Anglo-Swiss chemicals company Ineos and engineering and construction group McDermott.  

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 Niranjan’s 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.

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

One of these cases 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.

In another case, the firm defended 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.

Recent events

An Indian subsidiary of US conglomerate Honeywell has instructed ELP in several disputes. There were also new instructions from Turkish construction company Fernas, Japanese power sector manufacturer Takaoka Toko and Ecoppia Scientific, a solar industry automated cleaning company. It is advising a global media company on a new SIAC claim.

ELP was recently appointed by India’s IDBI Bank in enforcement efforts arising from pending claims against an infrastructure company.

The biggest public instruction on the firm’s books, however, comes from the Indian territory of Jammu and Kashmir in a US$1.45 billion arbitration relating to a power purchase agreement. It is also acting for the territory in several other disputes.

ELP has also 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 where the claims exceed US$150 million.

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.

ELP has also been 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.

Rohit Sharma was promoted to associate partner in Delhi.

Client comment

Oswald D’Souza, group legal head at L&T Hydrocarbon Engineering Limited, praises the firm’s “dedicated and energetic professionals” who possess “knowledge, a pragmatic outlook to issues, and the ability to find out-of-the-box solutions”.

Speaking of Thacker and Jain, he says: “[Their] knowledge of the working of various businesses [. . .] makes communication of business-related disputes and issues easier for a client. We were immediately impressed with their proficiency and accomplishments.” 

Get unlimited access to all Global Arbitration Review content