UAE, Indian law firms have fields to collaborate in, says top lawyer

Lalit Bhasin says companies from the two countries can partner in the areas of arbitration, mediation


Nandini Sircar

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Published: Sun 26 Jun 2022, 1:53 PM

There is immense potential for cooperation between the UAE and Indian law firms, especially in the field of arbitration, explains lawyer Lalit Bhasin, managing partner of Bhasin and Co in New Delhi and President of the Society of Indian Law Firms and the Bar Association of India.

Bhasin, who has over six decades of experience in the legal field, recently visited the UAE for the first time in over two years after the pandemic started.

Speaking to Khaleej Times, he said, "Arbitration has tremendous scope so far as the UAE is concerned. In India, for arbitration, we don't have good institutions, except- the Mumbai International Arbitration Centre. They are doing a good job, but that is just one institution and it's not very big. But then there is nothing else. Therefore, Indian businesses, if they have a dispute, they will prefer to come to Dubai or go to London or Singapore."

"In India, there is more ad hoc arbitration, as opposed to institutionalized arbitration. Institutionalized arbitration, as you have, for instance, in Dubai. The Dubai International Finance Center is doing a great job so far as arbitration is concerned. Parties who come from India have their disputes referred to over here, and I have myself visited the Dubai centre."

"But in India, we have not been able to come up with good institutions; Dubai definitely scores over us. Therefore, for arbitration the two counties can have great cooperation. We in India hold the DIFC in high regard. We have visited it and have seen their rules and regulations. They're very transparent, very fair, and their arbitrators are impartial and competent. There is good scope for cooperation so far as the UAE and India are concerned."

Shedding light on where the focus of collaboration could further be extended, he adds, "This should also be extended to mediation. Where the UAE can again take the lead is to have good and trained mediators under the same centre. That's because if you have good, trained mediators, that will inspire confidence in the parties that they are going to someone who will not mislead them. So, there is a lot of collaborative work happening already between the two countries."

Believing in the mantra "A poor settlement is better than a successful litigation," Bhasin says, "I always advise my clients that try to negotiate with the other side."

"Arrive at a settlement. Don't try getting into litigation. Say someone owes you one million rupees, but if they are offering you about Dhs50,000 or a little more, accept it. Otherwise, you'll be paying the same thing to the lawyer, possibly even more."

Throwing light on the entry of foreign law firms into India and whether it will prove to be a boon or bane, Bhasin says, "The Indian parliament should step in to amend the Advocates Act. It is high time that we should have good competition from foreign lawyers. It will help us in enriching our knowledge. If foreign law firms are allowed, it will give new avenues to the young lawyers."

"Since we are talking about the era of globalization, this is the correct step to be taken at this point in time. The government should take immediate steps to amend the act. That is where the Bar Council of India also come in. They must set up a regulatory system which will govern the foreign law firm as and when they are allowed."

Sharing some essential advice for future law students, he says, "I often tell law students, that in this profession, there are no shortcuts. This profession is like a jealous mistress. You have to sometimes ignore your family even, particularly now, that we talk of global contracts. Suppose I am sitting in New Delhi at 5pm and if there is a call coming from the United States or from Japan or from Singapore, so one must take the call as all the timings are different. We must answer calls sometimes even at midnight. So, there is no substitute for hard work in this profession."

"I really pay tribute to the women who join this profession…how well they manage home and their professional responsibilities. That is extraordinary, and without sacrificing on either one. It is commendable the way they adjust. We men often can't adjust and juggle with both sides so well. It's women who balance the two sides in a remarkable way."'


Elucidating on breaking the glass ceiling in the legal world, Nina Gupta Bhasin Managing Partner, Bhasin and Co and wife of Lalit Bhasin says, "The glass is still very thick, we have started hammering this glass, many are struggling but I am sanguine one day, women will be able to walk through this. Women in India have come a long way as far as the legal profession is concerned."

"We have a lot of female judges in the Supreme Court and in the year 2027, we'll have the first female CJI. That'll be a big feat for us. Therefore, the perception has definitely changed toward women in this profession. It's undoubtedly a male-dominated profession. But I would advise women not to feel bogged down by this environment. Instead, focus, be resilient and keep aiming high."

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