We are pleased to announce that Swapneil Akut, Raya Hazarika and Pratichi Mishra have been designated as retained partners at S&R Associates. We are also pleased to announce that Akshat Kulshrestha, Kinnari Sanghvi and Prateek Sharma have been designated as counsel at the Firm.
S&R Associates welcomes new Counsel
We are pleased to announce that Deborshi Barat has joined S&R Associates as counsel based in the Firm’s New Delhi office.
Does Non-payment of Stamp Duty Affect Enforceability of Arbitration Agreements?
There is, often, a complex interplay between transnational legal standards for the enforcement of commercial contracts and various domestic legislations. One such category of legislations in India which affects, and sometimes delays, the enforcement of arbitration agreements are legislations relating to collection of stamp duty, in particular the Indian Stamp Act, 1899 and certain state-specific legislations relating to collection of stamp duty (collectively, the “Stamp Duty Law”). Under the Stamp Duty Law, an insufficiently stamped instrument is liable to be impounded. Further, until such an instrument is sufficiently stamped, the instrument remains inadmissible in evidence. What then is the fate of an arbitration clause within an instrument that is either not stamped or insufficiently stamped? Will the relevant authority before which such instrument is presented under the provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 refuse to refer the parties to arbitration; appoint an arbitrator; grant interim relief sought by the party? Or, would the separability doctrine (that an arbitration agreement is separate and distinct from the substantive contract in which it is contained) salvage such an arbitration clause?
Renewed Spotlight on Material Adverse Effect Clauses following Covid-19 and the Musk-Twitter Dispute
Material Adverse Effect (“MAE”) clauses are once again in focus with the recent Musk-Twitter dispute arising from the termination of the transaction related to the acquisition of Twitter on MAE grounds. This note discusses certain issues relating to MAE clauses from a practical perspective in an M&A setting and how these clauses have been interpreted by courts in the past.
Competition Amendment Bill, 2022: Key Changes to the Competition Act, 2002
On August 5, 2022, the Competition (Amendment) Bill, 2022 (the “Bill”), to amend the Competition Act, 2002 (the “Competition Act”), was introduced in the Indian Parliament. The timing of approval of the Bill, and its coming into effect, is uncertain at present. The Bill introduces certain new concepts into the field of Indian competition law, including Deal Value Thresholds, the changes to the definition of ‘control’, and mechanisms to settle certain violations of the Competition Act. It also provides for practical and much-needed updates to the Indian competition law regime, including relaxations for implementation of stock exchange purchases, proposed publication of guidelines for fines, and reduction of timeframes for the Competition Commission of India’s approval. This note provides detailed description of the changes proposed by the Bill.
Transactions involving IPL Franchises: Legal Due Diligence
With the recent auction and sale of media rights of the Indian Premier League (“IPL”) by the Board of Control for Cricket in India (“BCCI”) for over INR 480 billion (approximately USD 6 billion), IPL franchises are in the spotlight. Reports suggest that certain IPL franchise owners may look to capitalize on an improved valuation, and either sell a part (or all) of their shareholding in the legal entity that has bid for and owns the IPL franchise, or may even consider a public listing of such legal entity. In this note, we look at key legal due diligence issues that may arise in connection with transactions involving IPL franchises.
Changes to Quarterly Shareholding Disclosures by Listed Entities in India
On June 30, 2022, the Securities and Exchange Board of India (“SEBI”) issued a circular amending the quarterly shareholding pattern disclosed by listed entities in India (the “2022 Circular”). This amended an earlier SEBI circular dated November 30, 2015. The 2022 Circular comes into force with effect from the quarter ending September 30, 2022. Listed entities are required to submit their shareholding pattern to the stock exchanges within 21 days of the end of each quarter in formats prescribed under the circulars. This note discusses certain key changes implemented by the 2022 Circular.
Monitoring Independent Directors: Who Will Guard the Guards?
Since the introduction of the concept of independent directors, it has been perceived as an easy remedy to poor corporate governance. Their efficacy in effectively monitoring company management is often taken at face value. Studying recent instances of corporate governance lapses provides an insight into the efficacy of independent directors. To plug gaps, regulators constantly strive to raise the bar on the relevant criteria for determining the independence, and the procedure for the appointment, of independent directors. However, the changes affected do not appear to address the problem at hand. In the United States, unlike in India, shareholders have often pursued derivative claims against independent directors. While these derivative actions are not always successful, they function as an additional check on independent directors’ actions. Derivative actions are also pursued by shareholders in India. However, they: (a) are rarely pursued against independent directors; and (b) typically arise out of situations where directors have committed a fraud on the shareholders rather than when they have simply failed to perform their duties. For independent directors in India to function as an effective check on management, the threat of shareholder action needs to be a real one.
Indian Legal Regime for ESG
The need for addressing Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) related aspects, has never had more prominence than now. There is growing recognition of the financial and economic impacts of ESG risks across the globe and the investors are increasingly relying on ESG as an important metric to guide their investment decisions. Internationally, regulators and enforcement agencies are taking greater cognizance of ESG related issues and a more stringent view of non-compliances or greenwashing by any business regarding their ESG credentials. The impact of climate change, requirement of good governance and protection of interest of various stakeholders are increasingly forming part of various formal and informal dialogues, particularly in the post COVID era. At the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (“COP-26”) held in Glasgow, United Kingdom, India, along with 196 other countries made enhanced commitments towards mitigating the risks associated with climate change. The recent legal developments have demonstrated that the regulatory landscape for ESG in India has developed at a measured but regular pace and the Indian regulatory authorities are now catching up on the ESG trends that have been ongoing at a global level. With so much being said and done in relation to ESG on a day-to-day basis, it is sometimes difficult to focus on the real issue. This note aims to explain the concept of ESG and provides a brief overview of the Indian regulatory landscape in relation to ESG.
Digital Markets Must be Defined Well for Competition Regulation
The rise of the digital sector has presented unique challenges for Indian regulatory authorities, including the Competition Commission of India (“CCI”), thanks to significant differences in the way such markets operate compared to traditional markets. There is growing demand, worldwide and in India, to hold digital platforms responsible and accountable for adverse impacts caused by them. A preliminary step involved in such probes is that of defining a ‘relevant market’ within which such digital platforms operate. This note analyzes the CCI’s approach on defining a ‘relevant market’ in the digital sector so far, and the need of the hour in terms of considering all substitutable and interchangeable products or services while defining such markets.