Dispute Resolution: India (Desks Based Abroad)
THE FIRM Allen & Overy's first-class regional offerings in finance and capital markets make it a popular choice to handle disputes arising from those areas. The disputes team has been especially active in India-related cases of late, with matters principally handled from the firm's Hong Kong office. Demonstrating this area of strength, the team is currently acting for a major international bank in proceedings against an Indian party relating to defaulted payments on multiple derivatives transactions. In another matter, the team is representing an international oil and gas company and its Indian joint venture partner in an ongoing UNCITRAL dispute against the government of India, which stems from the interpretation of production sharing contracts.
Sources say: "One of the best in the region." "A very successful practice."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Matthew Gearing is a highly regarded practitioner with substantial arbitration experience, including in proceedings held under UNCITRAL, ICSID and LCIA rules. Peers agree that "he's outstanding – a smart practitioner who's very good at strategy."
THE FIRM The merger between Freehills and Herbert Smith linked one of Australia's leading disputes teams with one of the premier international arbitration practices in the Asia-Pacific region. The group's India focus remains strong, reinforcing its status as go-to counsel for several leading domestic corporates. Amongst its current cases, the team is representing an Indian commodities trading corporation in connection with insolvency proceedings in Singapore, and is advising a Swiss company on a contractual dispute with its Indian supplier. Sources commend the team for its depth of experience and user-friendly approach.
Sources say: "Disputes is the firm's forte." "A proven commitment to India."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Formerly head of Herbert Smith’s Singapore international arbitration group, Nicholas Peacock relocated to London at the start of 2012. India-related cases remain a major focus of his work. His recent caseload includes acting for a major Indian corporation and a Japanese electronics company in separate proceedings relating to disputed tax payments.
THE FIRM Norton Rose has substantial India-related experience across all major work streams, but demonstrates a particularly high level of expertise in relation to disputes. Its London and Singapore offices are the primary hubs handling such matters. Energy, shipping and technology are key areas of focus for the group, with a number of sensitive matters in these sectors currently on its books. The team is adept at handling arbitrations held under a variety of rules, including ICC, LCIA and LMAA, and recently advised the agent of a major Indian fashion house on its response to allegations of breach of confidentiality and intellectual property rights infringement.
Sources say: "We've been very pleased with their knowledge of the subject, the way they handle the assignments and their constant endeavours to protect clients' interests at each stage." "Very impressive – they get into the nuts and bolts of a case."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Sherina Petit was promoted to partner in early 2012 and is highly recommended by several sources, with clients particularly noting her ability "to understand the client's needs." Petit is advising a major Indian-based fashion house on its strategy concerning potential defamation allegations.
THE FIRM International arbitration remains a core part of Clifford Chance's work in the South Asia region. In an Indian context, it is also frequently engaged by leading international corporates to provide regulatory advice across a range of sectors. The firm has a substantial depth of resources, with partners based in the UK, Australia, Singapore and Hong Kong all offering guidance on recent India-related highlights. The team is currently advising Lanco Infratech on its defence following breach of contract allegations relating to the supply agreement made between it and Griffin Coal prior to Lanco's acquisition of the company in 2011.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Nish Shetty is fluent in Hindi and Tamil, and plays a leading role in many of the firm's India-related highlights. Peers agree that he has "a very good reputation in the market."
THE FIRM This established US firm is well known for the strength of its arbitration practice. Despite its relatively recent focus on India, the disputes team has achieved a remarkable degree of recognition, with sources in the Indian legal community now viewing it as equal to many more-established names. It recently represented the Aditya Birla Group in two parallel proceedings – an ad hoc Indian arbitration and a UK-seated LCIA arbitration – concerning a multimillion-dollar dispute that stemmed from the terms of a shareholders' agreement.
Sources say: "A top firm in the world for professional excellence."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Peter Goldsmith QC is the firm's chair of European and Asian litigation. He is held in high regard amongst the Indian legal community, with one source saying: "He has two skills that form a deadly combination in a litigator: firstly, the ability to dissect any complicated legal problem to one or two basic issues; and secondly, the ability to present a solution to the judge or arbitrator in the simplest possible manner."
THE FIRM While the India practice at this magic circle firm typically acts on the transactional side, it is ably supported by the firm's heavyweight international disputes practice, which consists of many leading figures in the field. Typical matters involve representing and advising international clients in connection with contentious aspects of Indian joint ventures and M&A. An ongoing client is UAE-based telecoms provider Etisalat, which the firm is advising in connection with matters arising from the 2G scam.
Sources say: "An excellent reputation."
KEY INDIVIDUALS London-based corporate partner Pratap Amin heads the India practice, and co-ordinates all contentious representations with the firm's disputes team.
THE FIRM Following the launch of its Singapore office in late 2012, the market anticipates great things from this practice. International arbitration will be a primary focus of the office, with established disputes partner Gautam Bhattacharyya relocating from London in January 2013, and the hire of partner Simon Sloane from Holman Fenwick Willan. The firm has notable experience in acting for Indian corporates on arbitration and litigation cases, including those relating to financial services, banking, derivatives and commodities.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Gautam Bhattacharyya is joint head of the firm's India group, and has over 20 years' experience of representing clients in complex commercial arbitrations. He has particular expertise in relation to finance, energy and media disputes.
THE FIRM This established US firm is highly respected for its in-depth understanding of oil and gas matters. It is currently engaged on a number of long-running and highly sensitive disputes in this area. The team's expertise encompasses onshore and international arbitration, in addition to litigation and other forms of ADR.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Christopher Walker is based in the Hong Kong office. He has recently represented numerous Indian clients in oil and gas disputes, and is lauded by peers as "a very experienced expert" and "a tremendous details person."
THE FIRM White & Case has a well-developed India practice with expertise across all core work streams. The Singapore office in particular is noted for the depth of its India-focused resources. Recent highlights include advising a major international investment fund in relation to a possible SIAC arbitration arising from one of its investments, and acting for a domestic appliances manufacturer in proceedings arising from telecoms sale and purchase arrangements.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Aloke Ray is head of the firm's Asian international arbitration group. His particular focus is on disputes in the finance, oil and gas, construction and telecoms sectors, and he has represented clients in proceedings under the rules of the ICC, UNCITRAL and many other institutions.
THE FIRM Although Stephenson Harwood's India practice has seen some personnel changes of late, the team maintains strong expertise in shipping disputes, particularly in relation to ship finance. Contentious asset finance work is another area of specialisation, in which the firm acts for a number of high-profile clients.
KEY INDIVIDUALS Mike Phillips is a shipping and international trade specialist who spends a significant proportion of his time focused on India-related cases, including those relating to ship finance disputes, cargo claims and groundings.
THE FIRM Taylor Wessing has a broad focus for India-related disputes. In addition to handling arbitrations relating to foreign currency convertible bond payments and coal supply agreements, the firm also has notable expertise in contentious IP matters. It counts Jet Airways, Tata Consultancy Services and pharmaceuticals giant Cipla amongst its key Indian clients.
Sources say: "They are very experienced in the life sciences domain, which helps them understand our issues better than any generalist law firm." "We don't have to chase them for anything."
KEY INDIVIDUALS Senior associate Colin McCall focuses on intellectual property issues in the technology, life sciences and healthcare sectors. Sources are impressed with his "very practical" approach, and with his ability "to give you businesslike solutions."
joined Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP in May 2012, having formerly practised at Stephenson Harwood for more than 20 years. He is a respected name for banking and finance litigation, with sources agreeing that "he's very experienced and clear about strategy, and his advice is always results-oriented."
recently joined Winston & Strawn after a number of years heading the international arbitration and ADR group at Norton Rose. Peers regard him as "a great disputes lawyer who knows his subject and doesn't get panicked by anything."
He has an established reputation amongst clients in the energy and shipping sectors, and is also in high demand as an arbitrator.
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