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Shardul Shroff vs brother in ET interview & tells (sorta) why he sued: ‘Preposterous suggestion’ that I influenced will

Shardul Shroff, the Delhi managing partner of Amarchand Mangaldas who has been involved in a public Bombay high court battle with his Mumbai-based brother and co-managing partner Cyril, told the Economic Times in an exclusive interview that it’s a “preposterous suggestion” that he could have influenced his mother’s will that disinherited Cyril and his family.

He also claimed that he had offered his brother half of the equity in one partnership firm but the management committee’s later decision to split the late mother’s equity 50/50, forced his hand to approach the court.

Legally India had reported on Tuesday, the day of the Bombay high court hearing, that Cyril’s counsel Iqbal Chagla had said in court that Cyril would file an affidavit that Shardul was “deeply involved” in the making of their mother’s controversial will.

Shardul had not responded for comment when requested by Legally India, but has now responded to the ET:

I think this is the most preposterous suggestion that they have put out. Please don't forget that my mother had been a lawyer since 1955. She had been extremely independent, a highly acclaimed lawyer and had tremendous experience in law and writing of wills. She herself would have written at least 50 wills on her own for her clients and friends...the question of influencing her doesn't arise at all. She was the co-founder of the firm. In our partnership deed, there is a very special right which is given to her because of her contribution to the firm.

Shardul also told the ET that on 20 September he had offered Cyril a 50 per cent stake in the Hiralal Shroff & Co partnership and in Amarchand Towers Private Limited (ATP), which owns the Delhi office and properties.

“Despite my mother’s will, I made a written offer,” he told the ET.

But he added that the 10 November management committee resolution, that voted to split Bharati’s equity equally between Shardul and Cyril and was reported by Legally India on Tuesday, forced his hand, despite a mediation process between the parties assisted by others, such as AZB & Partners managing partner Zia Mody and prominent industrialists:

So, because of the precipitated action that they took on October 16 and November 10, [discussions] came to an abrupt halt because they cancelled my mother's property and issued shares to themselves. So you can't have a mediation and the intermeddling in the legal sense at the same time. You can't cancel a dead person's property, and so the process which was moving along the line with the help of a facilitator came to an end.

Shardul also said that “peace has to be given a chance” and he and Cyril had not ever spoken of “splitting” the firm in two. Legally India had reported yesterday that a highly-placed Mumbai source who could not be named, privately expected mediation to move towards a break-up of the firm along Delhi and Mumbai lines.

Cyril, commenting to the ET about Shardul’s interview said that he was “deeply surprised and anguished” that Shardul was “making matters worse by speaking to the media on matters that are sub-judice. I am not an ordinary litigant. I am a lawyer. I will say what I have to in my affidavit. I am serious about the mediation and do not want to derail that process in anyway.”

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