The largest Indian law firm break-up ever is now official, after the Bombay high court today blessed the arbitral award arrived at after nearly six months of mediation between Amarchand Mangaldas Suresh A Shroff & Co managing partners and brothers, Cyril and Shardul Shroff.

Justice Gautam Shirish Patel today allowed the testamentary and civil suits brought in November 2014 by Shardul against his brother to be withdrawn, with Cyril filing an affidavit that he would not fight their late mother's will.

Cyril’s affidavit, dated 5 May, tendered to the court today stated:

With a view to preserve the family name and keep the reputation of the family unblemished,  and in order to foster peace in the family, I have agreed not to contest and agreed for grant of probate of the will and Codicil of BSS, irrespective of whatever grounds I have to contest the Will and Codicil and the adverse statements made therein and SSS has agreed not to press the suit, in view of the arbitral award. I convey my no objection  to the grant of probate to SSS [petitioner].

According to a press release by the mediators, JM Financial founder Nimesh Kampani, senior counsel Harish Salve and Justice BN Srikrishna, "the two branches of the family have agreed to split and bifurcate  into separate  entities independently carrying on the profession of law".

It added: "With a view to preserve the fair name and reputation of the family unblemished, and in order to foster peace in the family, Mr. Cyril Shroff agreed not to contest and agreed for grant of probate to the will and codicil of his mother, late Smt. Bharatiben Shroff, irrespective of whatever grounds he may have had to contest the will and codicil, and Mr. Shardul Shroff agreed not to press the suit, in view of the family settlement and arbitral award."

The mediators wrote that they had entered into a detailed family settlement to divide "family properties, professional practice and allocation of assets".

They wrote that they were pleased that they had been "successful in its efforts to stave off what threatened to be a long drawn out and bitter litigation" and to achieve a settlement in a "relatively short period of time considering the complexities involved".

This was achieved "in no small measure on account of the spirit of accommodation and keenness displayed by all the contending parties, and their belief in the need to compose amicably their differences and to arrive at a family settlement that would maintain peace and cordiality among he members of the family", they wrote.

The brothers' protracted mediation began after a Bombay high court hearing on 14 November 2014 at which senior counsel Iqbal Chagla and law firm Federal Rashmikant represented Cyril, and senior counsel P Chidambaram and law firm Bharucha & Partners acting for Shardul.

After that hearing the brothers agreed to mediate their differences under the three mediators, rather than fight it out in the courtroom.

Their dispute revolved around the will of Bharati Shroff, the brothers’ late mother, which allegedly bequeathed all of her assets, including the largest single equity stake in the Amarchand law firm to Shardul.

Cyril claimed that equity in the firm was not hers to bequeath, as the family’s equity holdings in the firm were governed by partnership and family framework agreements, while Shardul claimed primacy of the will.

During mediation, Mumbai-based Cyril and Delhi-based Shardul started executing plans, sanctioned by the mediators, to set up new partnerships and offices in each other's respective cities. Both have begun hiring partners for their new offices.

Live from Bombay high court earlier today

Amarchand Mangaldas, which has faced a protracted mediation since November 2014 over the future of the firm, will settle its dispute today in the Bombay high court which will result in a split of the firm.

Due to popular request from readers, Bapu Deedwania is reporting live again from Mumbai about the biggest law firm split probably ever, possibly anywhere.

However, it’s unlikely there’ll be significant arguments made today, since mediation ended yesterday, and we’re predicting it could all be over rather quickly.

13:45 Both Cyril Shroff and Shardul Shroff have been waiting for Justice Gautam Patel’s court for more than an hour. The matter was originally scheduled to be heard at 11:30 but other matters have kept the court busy and the Shroffs waiting.

Shardul has been waiting inside the courtroom, sitting face the bench since 11:30.

Cyril is waiting outside the courtroom while his wife and Amarchand partner Vandana Shroff is inside.

13:47 Cyril has entered the courtroom with Iqbal Chagla, sitting in a back row.

13:55 It’s started! Chagla is addressing the bench for Cyril.

Chagla says that the mediation panel between the brothers came to a settlement yesterday (5 May).

13:57 Justice Patel is reading, and allowing that the suit be withdrawn.

13:58 Now Chagla is tendering an affidavit by Cyril in the testamentary matter between them relating to the brothers’ late mother’s will. In the affidavit Cyril has agreed not to contest the matter relating to probate and codicil.

13:59 Justice Patel says that he will pass an order of the consent terms, with the department to issue probate on priority basis.

14:09 And, as expected, it’s already over. Update to follow soon. Hearing there is a pre-prepared press release to be issued soon.

14:31 Patel had dictated his order, allowing the suit to be withdrawn in light of the arbitral award in the mediation having been passed.

14:53 Awaiting official press release, which is understood to be released shortly.

15:02 The old Amarchand Mangaldas partnership will dissolve on Saturday 9 May, with separate partnership to be started by Cyril and Shardul shortly thereafter.

The official press release from the mediators has been released:

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1
Like +13 Object -1 Curious 06 May 15, 14:06  interesting  top rated
Wow. Endgame Amarchand. Truly the end of an era.
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2
Like +6 Object -2 Aston 06 May 15, 14:44
Kian, i'm sure somehow you can get hold the copy of the Mediation Report!!
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Like +6 Object -3 kianganz 06 May 15, 14:48
Somehow: maybe yes. Easily: probably no ;)
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Like +6 Object -3 kianganz 06 May 15, 14:53
We're updating a live blog of today's hearing by the way.

Press release expected shortly and will be published here:
http://www.legallyindia.com/Law-firms/live-the-final-moments-of-amarchand-mangaldas-as-we-know-it-in-bombay-hc
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3.1
Like +9 Object -3 Lol 06 May 15, 15:02  interesting
Isn't tis the live blog already? :P
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Like +4 Object -0 Agent Smith 06 May 15, 15:19
Very clever, Mr. Anderson. By linking to this very blog you have created an infinite loop that will surely, as they say, break the internet.
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Like +2 Object -1 kianganz 06 May 15, 15:29
Aaargh - wrong thread comment :)

I'd love to say something more witty in return, but with broken internet, alas am unable.
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Like +0 Object -0 Scooter- 07 May 15, 06:04
was this the more witty thing itself?
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Like +0 Object -0 curious 06 May 15, 15:55
Why do you say "he would not fight some parts of their late mother's will"? The press release says he would not contest the will and has consented to probate the will, which presumably means he would not fight any part of the will.

Have they agreed to alter some part of the bequest?
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Like +0 Object -0 kianganz 06 May 15, 16:13
You're correct - was edited a bit unfortunately. Meant to say that would accept some parts of the will, since clearly the division of shares has been mediated separately from that presumably. But yes, correct, neither side will contest / fight any parts of the will.
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5
Like +8 Object -2 cycle wallah 06 May 15, 16:24  interesting
Oops! The front tyre of the cycle just split into two! 'Tis been less than a year.. must go and claim warranty. But then again, don't think I want tyres of this [...] brand.
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5.1
Like +37 Object -1 Tyrewala 06 May 15, 16:37  interesting  top rated
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Like +0 Object -0 Seriously !!! 07 May 15, 23:55
Couldn't stop laughing reading your comment !! True none of us want tyres of this brand !!! Lol
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Like +3 Object -3 Guest 06 May 15, 16:36
Any announcement from Shardul on the potential Mumbai merger?
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Like +3 Object -2 I know everything 06 May 15, 16:38
And in other news, Ravi Bandhakavi and his team joined Trilegal today.
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Like +10 Object -0 AMSS Alum 06 May 15, 16:44  interesting
Any chance the managing partners will learn from this and ditch their family-first policy? No? Are you sure? Ah well...
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Like +3 Object -0 WTF 06 May 15, 17:26
Details of the split? As in who's getting to keep what...
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Like +1 Object -0 WOO 06 May 15, 18:45
Do something fun like this, Kian: http://www.rollonfriday.com/FirmoftheYear/FirmoftheYearStories/tabid/328/Id/3796/fromTab/328/currentIndex/9/Default.aspx

http://www.rollonfriday.com/FirmoftheYear/FirmoftheYearStories/tabid/328/Id/3797/fromTab/328/currentIndex/7/Default.aspx
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Like +0 Object -0 kianganz 06 May 15, 18:47
Lol. What categories would there be in Indian firms? I think most don't have very fancy biscuits (in UK firms many of them home-bake their meeting room biscuits in-house or otherwise get artisanal biscuits delivered).
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Like +1 Object -0 Bombay Lawyer 06 May 15, 20:10
I understand there is a severe lack of retail biscuits in the United Kingdom forcing law firms to bake their own in-house. If only they baked their own partners in house instead of buying them off the market, it would be nicer. :-p.
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Like +0 Object -3 Bombay Lawyer 06 May 15, 20:11
http://bombayhighcourt.nic.in/generatenewauth.php?auth=cGF0aD0uL2RhdGEvY3JpbWluYWwvMjAxNS8mZm5hbWU9QVBFQUw1NTAxNTA2MDUxNS5wZGYmc21mbGFnPU4=

Salman Khan, Bail Order.
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Like +2 Object -1 WOO 06 May 15, 21:26
Do party scenes (guessing trilegal will top the chart), canteen, maybe?
Pretty girls? (AZB, huh?)
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10.1.3.1
Like +12 Object -1 AZB 06 May 15, 22:37  interesting
Pretty girls? Where, where? *eyes darting around* Must take a walk around office and pretend to get coffee for another late nighter, while I secretly strategise how to win tonight's Candy Crush marathon.
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Like +2 Object -0 Biscoot 07 May 15, 12:57
In India some firms charge their associates for biscoot. Real penny pinchers!
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Like +0 Object -1 Amend 10 May 15, 14:04
Agree - Desai Diwanji charges associates for tea and biscuits
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Like +2 Object -0 hubba 06 May 15, 19:41
Chalo khel samapti ki ghoshana ho gayi
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Like +3 Object -3 SAM Equity 06 May 15, 23:09
How are other partners are reacting at SAM when Iqbal Khan is being given equity upfront while so many other laterals and home growns are not?
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Like +4 Object -1 Election Commission 06 May 15, 23:18
Maybe it's appeasement politics. Who knows SAM may just contest the next elections in Maharashtra.
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Like +0 Object -6 Attorney General 07 May 15, 08:26
"the arbitral award arrived at after nearly six months of mediation". An arbitral award resulting out of a mediation? LOL, Kian! What do you smoke??
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14.1
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Like +3 Object -1 kianganz 07 May 15, 13:46
I understand that legally, a settlement arrived at via mediation is called an 'arbitral award'...
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14.1.1
Like +6 Object -2 Lawyer 07 May 15, 14:34
No it is called either settlement agreement and/or consent decree (if it is decreed). There is no award by the mediators, in mediation parties sort their issues out and arrive at a settlement wholly by themselves with the mediator serving merely as a channel of advise and communication.
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14.2
Like +7 Object -1 Watching from Bombay 07 May 15, 14:39  interesting
The parties can chose at a successful mediation to have the final settlement be termed as an arbitral award and the mediation proceedings itself as an arbitration where the arbitrators by the consent of the parties have a mandate to make an arbitral award. Your comment stems from a complete lack of knowledge of law and your craving to talk bad about others at the slightest. I suggest you pick up a broom and start a profession you are fit for. I dont mean become a sweeper, I mean join a political party.
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Like +1 Object -0 kianganz 07 May 15, 14:44
Ah, thanks for clearing that up, that sounds like a solid explanation...

Out of interest, what's the advantage, if any, in structuring a mediation as a quasi-arbitration?
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14.2.2.1
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Like +0 Object -0 Lawman 07 May 15, 16:14
Arbitral award is binding and has the force of law.
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14.2.2.1...
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Like +0 Object -1 kianganz 07 May 15, 16:16
But a settlement agreement or consent decree would presumably also be binding, no?
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14.2.2.1...
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Like +2 Object -0 Student 07 May 15, 17:20
No, it does not have the same effect. An arbitral award is the highest in terms of protection from the law and enforceability.
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14.2.2.1...
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Like +1 Object -0 Erm 07 May 15, 17:55
Arbitral award can be enforced as a court decree. Whereas a settlement agreement gives out only contractual obligations, and must be enforced as a contract rather than a decree.
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Like +0 Object -1 kianganz 07 May 15, 17:57
Aha, there we go. That makes sense :)
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14.2.2.2
Like +5 Object -1 Watching from Bombay 08 May 15, 00:04
A mediation ends in a settlement that is required to be singed by all parties. (Haresh Dayaram Thakur vs State) This gives the parties a chance to contend at a later stage that their signature was obtained by misrepresentation, duress, coercion or importunity. It can thus be challenged by way of a suit or defended in a contempt action.
An award on the other hand is passed by only the arbitrator(s) which does not require any signature of the parties. The above chances of wriggling out are therefore nearly nil.
Moreoever an Award unlike an Order / Decree of a Court can be challenged on very few grounds (only on the grounds in Section 34 of the arb. act). Also an award cannot be challenged after 120 days of its service on all concerned or after 120 days of its receipt unlike in case of an Order / Decree, which when pleaded in the context of fraud can be challenged even after eons.
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Like +0 Object -0 kianganz 08 May 15, 00:25
Wah, there we go, a real lawyer! :) Thanks for the explanation!
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Like +10 Object -0 Tis time 07 May 15, 08:54  interesting
Maybe now both firms will now stop being lax and finally introduce some quality control and get rid of the babus and chamchas spread in each of the practice areas. If it does happen then the split would be the best thing as far as meritocracy and quality work product is concerned.
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Like +3 Object -1 FYI 07 May 15, 09:37
So its finally 'Amarchand mukt Bharat'?
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16.1
Like +6 Object -0 Correction 07 May 15, 17:53  interesting
No No No No No (Imagine Russell Peters doing an Indian accent)
Now there's two of them
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Like +1 Object -0 hubba 07 May 15, 13:45
Kian I dont understand technology otherwise if I knew there were a way to ask you offline, I would have...

Why exactly did my comment not get published? Because it was in Hindi typed in English script? Because there was nothing inflammatory or derogatory towards anyone in it.
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Like +2 Object -1 kianganz 07 May 15, 13:52
Typically we only allow English comments since not everyone speaks Hindi, and Hindi ones take longer to moderate... Will have a look and publish if appropriate.
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Like +2 Object -1 Scooter- 07 May 15, 14:05
Legally 'India'...and not allowing Hindi! People only write hindi since its difficult to type! be a bit more populist!
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18.1
Like +8 Object -1 kianganz 07 May 15, 14:16  interesting
What about Urdu, Kannada, Bengali, Gujarati, Malayalam, Tamil, Telugu or Marathi? And English is the lingua france of law...

Anyway, like I said, we do allow Hindi comments but they take longer to moderate...
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Like +2 Object -0 aai zavli 07 May 15, 17:59
Lol
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Like +2 Object -1 Mauka 08 May 15, 15:13
I think now I will start a new firm and name it "Amarchand Mangaldas......" ! ;)
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21
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Like +0 Object -0 Bollywood 09 May 15, 10:43
My goodness i tell you !! Law firms in India, their disputes, their stories and their internal politics !!!! Its become like a mini bollywood !!!

Suited, booted and dressed to kill - todays' lawyers :) our fashion quotients, the pretty successful ladies, the fat pay cheque, the fancy cars, the dirty secrets ! The splits, the fights !!!

Each lawyer in awe of his self proclaimed 'stardom' ! I guess we could consider publishing something like a Stardust may be for the legal fraternity !!
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Like +0 Object -0 Lollipop wala 09 May 15, 13:41
Any update regarding the dissolution?
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