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Hemant Sahai, Paras Kuhad kill short-lived union, demerge (UPDATE-1)

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Hemant Sahai Associates and Paras Kuhad & Associates (PKA) have demerged only two months after announcing the ill-fated merger of their practices to create PHA Advocates.

The decision to part ways was announced by the management to the partnership yesterday (14 December) and will take effect retrospectively from 1 December, according to authoritative sources.

PKA managing partner Paras Kuhad sent a mobile phone text message to all lawyers in his firm, stating: "Having taken the feedback from all of you and for the reasons that we discussed - and with a view to preserve the culture- that we in PKA have always lived by, I decided to bite the bullet and dissolved PHA effective 1 st dec with every Partners [sic] concurrence."

"We are back as PKA," added the text message. "Heads of offices are requested to forward the message to everyone in their offices."

However, it is understood that the full reasoning behind the demerger is not yet known to the PHA Advocates' partnership.

The mechanics of how the firm of 10 partners and 115 lawyers will be divided has also not yet been announced.

Hemant Sahai's team of around five in Mumbai had moved into Paras Kuhad's larger office and Paras Kuhad's smaller Delhi team temporarily moved into Hemant Sahai's office of 25, while the firms were seeking new premises.

Meanwhile, two partners had also joined the firm since the merger took effect on 1 October. An AZB & Partners senior associate had joined PHA Advocates as a Mumbai corporate partner in November and a Mulla & Mulla senior associate had joined the firm as a Mumbai litigation partner.

Hemant Sahai's primary strength lies in corporate with Paras Kuhad being particularly well-known for its litigation practice.

It is understood that the original merger was in part prompted by the resignation of the two Paras Kuhad Mumbai founders, with partner Manish Desai quitting almost two months before the merger announcement on 29 September and partner Sowjanya Menon handing in her notice a day later on 30 September.

Desai and Menon have since started up a new Mumbai firm called Vidhii Partners with a number of former Paras Kuhad associates.

The original merger between the firms had followed a difficult year, in which Hemant Sahai lost its Mumbai office head Saurabh Awasthi and Delhi regulatory and litigation partner Sitesh Mukherjee, who joined Trilegal with a team of four. Paras Kuhad had lost its Kolkata office head Niloy Pyne, who started up his own firm.

Pre-merger Hemant Sahai had offices in Delhi and Mumbai.

Paras Kuhad independently had offices in Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, Chennai and Kolkata, as well as offices in Jodhpur and Pune, according to the firm's website.

In a formal statement the firms issued after the merger, the Jodhpur and Pune offices were not mentioned.

Respective managing partners Hemant Sahai and Paras Kuhad were unavailable for comment at the time of publication.

Updated at 16:52 IST, 14 December with telephone text message by Paras Kuhad.

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