A step towards greater triumphs

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This month India Business Law Journal celebrates its second anniversary. It has tracked the nation’s legal and economic development for 24 months, and looking back, as with India and its programme of economic reform, there has never been any doubt of the project prevailing.

“The journal stands out in its league,” says Diljeet Titus, managing partner of Titus & Co. “Each of your stories has been marvellous,” adds Pravin Anand, managing partner of IP boutique Anand and Anand. The journal is “an excellent magazine and we are proud to be associated with it,” he says.

Our second anniversary comes at a time when India faces the prospect of a new era with the swearing in of its new government. The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance’s increased majority in the Lok Sabha and release from the grip of its communist coalition partners holds out the promise of stable governance and a reformist agenda (Congress given a second chance). Expectations are high. However, the challenges facing the new administration are daunting, not least in the arena of commercial law.

Leader 0906Writing in this month’s Vantage point, Shardul Thacker, a partner at Mumbai law firm Mulla & Mulla & Craigie Blunt & Caroe, takes the electoral conversation further, outlining the challenges that face India’s newly appointed law minister, Veerappa Moily. Moily is a trained lawyer and prominent literary figure. As Thacker stresses, he has his work cut out. Poor judicial remuneration, corruption, frivolous litigation and an insurmountable backlog of cases are just a few of the immediate challenges he must face.

Exploring the new reality in greater depth, one of this month’s Spotlight features examines what the election result will mean for the business of law and the law of business in India (Singh swings it). Prospective investors are watching for signs of further liberalization to foreign investment regulations and relaxations to the restrictions on moving capital in and out of the country. Domestic and international law firms, meanwhile, are awaiting signs of how the new government will tackle the opening of the legal market.

Until liberalization becomes a certainty, foreign lawyers will continue to advise on India-related deals from afar. In so doing, they often encounter complex inter-jurisdictional challenges. This was particularly true in Xchanging’s recent takeover of Cambridge Solutions, the first acquisition of an Indian-listed company by a UK public listed company. The transaction is examined in depth in this month’s What’s the deal?. Distinguished commentators Laurence Levy and Sean Skiffington of Shearman & Sterling chart the difficulties associated with the takeover and explain how Xchanging was able to beat the odds and acquire its desired stake of precisely 75% in the Indian company.

The India-related work being undertaken by foreign law firms is also the theme of this month’s Cover story. Recent research by RSG Consulting, a London-based legal consultancy, found that almost 80% by value of India-related work is now undertaken by international firms. Detailed, reliable and up-to-date examination of this startling figure is to be found in India Business Law Journal’s third annual survey of the top foreign law firms for India work (Leading from the front). Our coverage highlights 100 foreign firms that have excelled over the past 12 months. An additional list identifies 10 “aspiring champions”, a diverse group of law firms that we predict will make an impact on the India market in the coming year.

One of many recurrent themes in India Business Law Journal over the last two years has been the emergence of a new type of legal service provider – the legal process outsourcer, or LPO. This month, in response to requests from our readers, we strive to demystify the complexities and unconventional style of LPO billing (Fitting the bill). Our coverage reveals how alternative billing models are overtaking conventions of hourly billing, affording clients greater flexibility in tailoring fee arrangements to match their work requirements. Service providers offer an array of bespoke billing solutions ranging from per-document pricing and flat-fee arrangements to “full-time equivalent” models.

As our regular readers know, since its inception India Business Law Journal has embraced the challenge to address legal controversy related to issues as diverse as intellectual property protection, antitrust regimes, judicial corruption, the entry of foreign law firms – and more.

“I am often surprised by the openness of the debates that are generated within the magazine,” enthuses Jones Lang LaSalle’s general counsel, Jane Niven. “This may be indicative of the fact that there is nothing else quite like India Business Law Journal in the market, but I also believe that the objective approach taken by the editors encourages this openness,” she says.

As it embarks on its third year, India Business Law Journal will endeavour to ensure that the demanding requirements of so sophisticated a readership will be satisfied. In so doing, we take encouragement and succour from the words of India’s first post-independence prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, regarding a much greater project: “The achievement we celebrate today is but a step, an opening of opportunity, to the greater triumphs and achievements that await us.”