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Miles to go before I sleep (R. Frost) / Issue 65

Legally India newsletter
Legally India newsletter

Amarchand’s Delhi office celebrated its 30th birthday this month and the office’s architects Shardul and Pallavi Shroff even received a rather touching Robert Frost-inspired ode by a proud partner to heroes sung and unsung. Less joyously, this month also marked the first departure of one of the firm’s new equity partners who were taken onto the partial lockstep two years ago.

Amarchand corporate partner Himanshu Narayan has re-joined his former firm Dua Associates, which could do with the reinforcements after having faced en masse defection at the start of this year.

One partner leaving is certainly not an indictment of the firm’s new equity sharing model, as managing partner Shardul Shroff rightly points out. But it does give some cause for concern. After all, the carefully calibrated sharing of equity with the second generation of partners was in part meant to keep the most valuable talent stay put.

However, overall partner numbers at Amarchand will not change for now, as the Delhi office hired an experienced senior tax lawyer and chartered accountant as a partner.

Luthra & Luthra too has lost one of its corporate partners this week as Vineet Aneja left to pursue more “entrepreneurial” opportunities. His departure also does not seem to be immediately lockstep-related, despite the fact that Luthra & Luthra has still not decided on the specifics of its own modified lockstep, which it announced more than a year ago. But again, to secure future growth there needs to be a tangible system of advancement in place that young partners can aspire towards.

Luthra senior partner Mohit Saraf confirmed that the firm was still trying to finalise its new equity sharing model but that they “should be able to implement it soon”.

This week also saw some long-awaited court decisions that will have major repercussions.

Vodafone lost its Bombay High Court challenge of what could be a $2bn Indian tax bill for its acquisition of Hutch. While a Supreme Court appeal is almost certain, the creativity of corporate and tax lawyers will nevertheless be challenged in coming up with new structures that the Indian tax authorities will not be able to attack now. Read our detailed analysis of what the Vodafone decision could mean.

Interestingly, the Income Tax department chief blamed law firms for the Vodafone tax fiasco for having given “misplaced legal advice”. Maybe cross border M&A legal advice has become a much riskier proposition.

The Competition Commission of India (CCI) saw the first test of its powers, as the Supreme Court made its decision in the SAIL v Jindal case, with the help of Amarchand and Economic Laws Practice (ELP).

Anil Ambani’s Reliance movie arms have made good use of the CCI, as Naik Paranjpe & Co secured a second interim order in Reliance’s continuing spat with the Karnataka Film Chamber.

For law students and educators this week held a mix of excitement and worries.

And for those who keep wondering why nothing ever really happens on the foreign law firm front, read our analysis that explains it.

And finally, the last leg of the blogging competition is here. Please vote to decide which of the excellent bloggers will share the Rs 95,000 still left up for grabs for India’s best legal blogger and blog, as well as the special prize for the best blogging on social justice.

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Comment of the week

“Good initiative that was long overdue, but before anyone starts to congratulate Mr. Subramaniam, I must sound a word of caution,” warns AT about the BCI closing down law schools. “The difference between those schools and the 50 schools that have been de-recognised is that the former enjoy political patronage and in some cases are even administered by them.”

Blogs of the week
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