GAR 100 - 15th Edition

AZB & Partners

AZB & Partners

Professional notice

Secured a landmark Indian judgment for Amazon recognising an emergency award

People in Who’s Who Legal1
Pending cases as counsel2
Value of pending counsel workUS$1.6 billion
Treaty cases as counsel0

This Indian firm sprang from a 2004 merger between CZB & Partners in Mumbai and Ajay Bahl & Company in Delhi. The firm now also has offices in Pune and Bangalore.

AZB owes much of its reputation to the profile of founding partner Zia Mody in Mumbai. She is a former vice president of the LCIA and has acted in numerous cases there and at other leading institutions.

Senior partner Rajendra Barot in Mumbai leads the dispute resolution practice. Another partner to know is Vijayendra Pratap Singh, head of litigation in Delhi, who has spearheaded arbitrations related to options contracts, shareholder disputes and intellectual property issues. 

Who uses it?

Recent clients of note include Amazon, Nissan, Tata Group, Vedanta Resources, Philip Morris, Bharti Airtel, HSBC and the Bank of New York Mellon.

The former majority shareholders in Yukos Oil Company also turned to the firm for a short-lived action to enforce their US$50 billion award against Russia.

Track record

Together with Allen & Overy, AZB advised Japanese carmaker Nissan in a US$660 million investment treaty claim against India relating to incentives for a car factory in Chennai. The government of Tamil Nadu agreed in 2020 to pay up to US$238 million to settle the dispute. AZB had previously helped to thwart repeated efforts by the state government to injunct the arbitration in local courts.

Another case with Allen & Overy saw the firm obtain a US$110 million award for Mauritian private equity fund Rishima in 2019 in a Singapore-seated ICC case over a five-star hotel in Kolkata. The Singapore courts upheld the award and the firm is now helping to enforce it in India.

AZB defended Tata Sons in a billion-dollar LCIA claim brought by Japan’s largest mobile operator, NTT Docomo, over a short-lived internet services venture.

For clients SMS and Solar Industries India, the firm obtained wins in two ad hoc claims against a mining company owned by the Indian state of Chhattisgarh. The dispute concerned a joint venture to exploit two coal blocks.

Recent events

AZB has been representing US retailer Amazon in a dispute with India’s Future Group over the latter’s planned US$3.4 billion sale of significant assets to rival Reliance Industries. The firm helped to secure an Indian Supreme Court judgment in 2021 affirming that the country recognises emergency arbitration awards.

Chinese renewables company Jinneng Clean Energy is using AZB in a SIAC dispute with the SunEdison group. The firm persuaded the Madras High Court that two SunEdison entities were bound to arbitrate even though they were non-signatories.

It is representing Balfour Beatty in a New Delhi-seated arbitration with a former joint venture partner over a commercial contract.

AZB’s dispute resolution team is recognized as a market–leading group and is the preferred partner by corporate houses and multinationals in multi-jurisdictional arbitration matters governed by Indian law, and various institutional rules including those of the SIAC, LCIA, ICC, UNCITRAL, Swiss Chambers of Commerce and London Maritime Arbitrators Association. AZB has also been involved in arbitration proceedings under foreign laws such as New York law and English law, where Indian law issues underscored the arbitration proceedings.

The Firm has acted in landmark decisions that define the arbitration landscape in India, including the Amazon Future dispute regarding enforceability of emergency arbitrator awards, the Supreme Court decision distinguishing the concept of ‘seat’ and ‘venue’ of arbitration (Enercon case), applicability of the 2015 Amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (Kochi Cricket case), arbitrability of cases involving allegations of fraud (HSBC-Avitel case), enforceability of the put/call option in light of a public policy challenge (Banyan Tree case). The Firm’s experience in arbitration and litigation is across almost every industry including construction, manufacturing, energy, mining and natural resources, insurance, aviation, banking and finance, telecommunication, infrastructure, etc. In addition, Firm also advises clients who get dragged in white collar criminal proceedings, often an offshoot of the civil proceedings.

The Firm is the forefront of emerging areas of practice such as high frequency trading technology, Fintech, privacy and technology regulation. The Firm’s experience across areas such as disputes, banking, and investment funds ensures that it is able to provide cutting edge solutions and advice to clients looking to explore opportunities in the space of third party litigation and arbitration funding in India.

The AZB teams have been steadfast in adapting to the “new normal” i.e. digitalization of the courts and catering to client needs amidst the COVID-19 induced lockdown in India.

Zia Mody (the co-founder and managing partner of AZB) is widely recognised as one of India’s foremost lawyers and an eminent arbitration specialist by the International Who’s Who Legal (2012-2021). She is the recipient of several awards, including ‘India’s Most Influential Women Leaders’ by Business World (2019) and holds appointments on the governing board of the ICCA, SIAC and CIETAC. Zia was the Vice President and Member of the LCIA between 2010 and 2013, and a member of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal between 2008 and 2013.

Rajendra Barot (Head-Dispute Resolution, Mumbai) has attracted praise for his “good commercial mind” and “thorough knowledge of Indian law”. He has been consistently rated as a “Leading Practitioner” by various publications including Chambers & Partners, Legal500, IBLJ, Asia Law profiles. Notably, he was ranked as India’s Best Disputes Lawyer by Asian Legal Business India (2020).

Vijayendra Pratap Singh (Head–Dispute Resolution, Delhi). Vijayendra has spearheaded several key arbitration matters including the recent Amazon – Future dispute. He has consistently been rated as a Leading Practitioner by various publications including Asia Law, Chambers & Partners, Benchmark Litigation, Forbes Legal etc. Notably, he was recognised as Litigation Star of the Year by Benchmark Litigation, Asia-Pacific (2021).

Aditya Vikram Bhat is known in the Bengaluru market for his litigation and arbitration practice, which includes cross-border shareholder disputes and fraud allegations. He is experienced in representing multinational clients before various high courts and the National Company Law Tribunal. He has been recognised as an ‘Up and Coming’ Dispute Resolution lawyer by Chambers Asia-Pacific (2022) and recommended by Legal 500 Asia Pacific (2022).

Sonali Mathur has advised and represented clients in several complex arbitration matters and has been Recognized as an ‘Up and Coming’ Dispute Resolution lawyer by Chambers Global (2021) and Chambers Asia-Pacific (2021 and 2022), and also recommended by Legal 500 Asia Pacific (2021 and 2022).

The team is highly experienced and other recommended lawyers (Legal 500 Asia Pacific, 2022) include Roopali Singh, Priyanka Shetty, Abhijnan Jha and Aditya Jalan

Website: www.azbpartners.com/

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