3rd Legal Era Indo - Asian Business & Law Conclave successfully concluded

 The two-day conference dissected and analysed the theme, "Emerging Trends in Business and Law"

The recently concluded 3rd Annual Legal Era Conclave 2013-14 enabled meaningful debate and discussion on contemporary topics closest to the legal and business community worldwide.

The two-day conclave, attended by hundreds of law firms and corporate houses, brought to the fore emerging trends in business and law while shining the light on economic-diplomatic strategy for businesses to operate in domestic and international markets.

Aakriti Raizada, Founder Editor & Managing Director, Legal Era Magazine & Legal Media Group, threw open the event with her welcome address. "The main intention of this Conclave is to bring together under one roof the legal and business community of India to discuss matters of mutual relevance and Legal Era hopes to mirror the aspirations of all the participants by facilitating a dialogue between the business and the legal community," she said.

 Justice B.N. Srikrishna, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India, in his inaugural speech, spoke of consumerism and the influence it has wielded on the way businesses are run.

 Referring to the consumer as king of all businesses, he said the Indian consumer is no longer an impulsive but a cautious buyer of goods and services.

Just as globally, people of all income groups and demographics have reduced compulsive spending, opting instead for products which provide value and meaning to their lives, back home too, ‘shop till you drop’ has been replaced by ‘spend if you need’.

session01Mysore Prasanna, Former General Counsel, Aditya Birla Group, and the chairperson of the conference, announced the theme of the conclave to be 'Emerging Trends in Business and Law' and gave a preview of the discussions to follow. 

As moderator of the first session also called 'Emerging trends in business and law', Prasanna said, It is a great privilege and honor to be sharing this conference. Business has to operate in a legal environment and law has to constantly recognize the dynamics of business and has to adapt itself to the needs of the business; unless business and law barter with each other as a concept, the progress of the country is going to be very much in doubt,"  he said.

Other speakers at the first session included Ashok Barat, Managing Director, Forbes & Company Limited; Rajat Jain, Managing Director, Xerox India Limited; Chakradhar Varadarajan, Executive Vice President, Corporate Legal, Godrej Industries Limited; and Deepak Nambiar, Partner, Kelley Drye

session02 Hemant Kumar

 The second session, ‘Business and Economy - FDI and Social Reverberations’, moderated by Anand Desai, Managing Partner, DSK Legal examined FDI in terms of its social impact.

One of the panelists, Hemant Kumar, Group General Counsel, Essar Group, said, Unless the government has the will to implement laws, you can frame hundreds and thousands of laws, but the will is lacking. The present scenario of FDI is policy and political paralyses and diminishing economic growth, which has suddenly prompted the present government to make some changes in FDI to gain some votes. That is not going to help our country;"

Other panelists included Anand Desai, Managing Partner, DSK Legal; Ajay Vaidya, Chief Legal and Compliance Officer, Kotak Mahindra; Biswajit Chatterjee, Partner, DLA Piper; and Ashish Kumar Chauhan, Managing Director & CEO, BSE.

session03The third session titled Compliance - Defining Corporate Culture - Are Crimes and Corruption on the Rise?’ discussed how increasing expectation for corporate accountability and transparency necessitates special attention towards corporate compliance. Moderated by S. Ramaswamy, Group General Counsel, Escorts, the session saw panelists including Debolina Partap, AVP & Head Legal, Wockhardt Group; Shukla Wassan, Executive Director, Legal & CS, Hindustan Coca-Cola Beverages Ltd; Bharat Mehta, VP, General Counsel and Ethics & Compliance Officer, India, South East Asia and Japan, Capgemini; and Jeff Watkins, Treasurer - SCCA, VP Finance & Legal, Acromobile Pte. Ltd.

The closing session of the first day was Alternative Dispute Resolution - International Arbitration & BITs which discussed the future role and scope of ADR along with international arbitration and BIT vis-à-vis business development.

session004 Talat Ansari

 Talat Ansari, Partner, Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, moderated the session. One of the speakers, Vivekananda N, Deputy Registrar & Head (South Asia), SIAC, said, “The 21st century is called the century of Asia, reason being the level of commercial activity and investments seen in the region today. Asia, India and China’s investment and economic growth is rising as compared to the rest of the world. I would be talking about inevitability of disputes and how we should protect the investments made in different jurisdictions, also why is it necessary to provide protection and security to the investors."

session04 J L N Murthy

Also, J L N Murthy, General Counsel, Red Bull held an interactive discussion with the audience and asked them, “What is a role of a lawyer in mediation generally? And what are the functions of a lawyer in mediation?"  To which the answers were advising clients of legal merits, using skills as regional speaker, problem solver and an expertise. There has to be mutual trust someone said, while another participant intervened by saying that it must be a win-win situation for both the parties. According to Murthy, this session was useful for the In-House counsels since the mediation is evolving in India, where as arbitration is already established. This session will help the counsels about how they can go for tomorrow. He said, “The lawyers must advice the clients about difference between mediation and litigation and prepare client for the mediation purpose."

The other speakers included Dr. Daniel Sharma, Partner, DLA Piper; Badrinath Durvasula, VP & Head Legal, L & T Ltd; Ganesh Chandru, Partner, Rodyk & Davidson LLP's Litigation & Arbitration Practice Group; and Leigh Crestohl, Senior Solicitor, Zaiwalla & Co. 

Day two of the conclave focused on the globalization and liberalization aspects of emerging trends in business and law. 

Archana Rajaram, General Counsel, Unilazer Ventures, in her opening speech said, “I thought of speaking about healthcare, retail and education sectors since these are the top investment sectors in India." She also spoke about whether regulations are adversely affecting mergers and acquisitions or are they protecting industry." session4

The other speakers included Deepak Nambiar, Partner, Kelley Drye; Vinay Ahuja, Head-Regional India Desk, Senior Adviser-Regional, M&A Practice Group, DFDL Mekong; and Biswajit Chatterjee, Partner, DLA Piper.
The second session Banking Structure in India - The Way Forward’ highlighted and explored the possibility of differentiated licenses from small and wholesale banks. The panelists also came up with a detailed road map for making necessary reforms.

This session was moderated by Nilanjan Sinha, General Counsel, GE Capital India; while panelists included Pramod Rao, General Counsel, Citibank India; B. Gopalakrishnan, Legal Advisor and Head, Legal Operations Group, Asset Reconstruction Company (India) Ltd; and Rajesh Narain Gupta, Managing Partner, SNG & Partners, Advocates & Solicitors.

“More banks are required than more business for all of us. There are enough banks belonging to various sectors in the country yet, most of the banks are still struggling for business. ‘Whenever you meet a banker, they talk less about work and ask more about clients,’ because 50% of India is unbanked today. The GDP of the banking sector is just 4 to 5% whereas the developed nations have over 20%. This lays down a phenomenon that we require new banks," said Gupta.

The third session, 'Keynote Address on Business & Law' was covered by Zia Mody, Managing Partner, AZB & Partners.

session5 Ziya Mody

 “Listen hungrily" said Mody as she was speaking just before the lunch break. Pleasure to be here and I thought that I would use this opportunity to just give some free flowing thoughts on what I have seen develop as a professional in the 30 years that I have been practicing the law. I always tell our young lawyers at AZB that my father gave me a couple of pieces of advice and one was as a Barrister and he would say: ’Darling, you know, all clients are necessary evils. You don’t have to worry beyond a point. You just make sure you can sleep safely and peacefully at night.’ When a client pushes me too hard, I give him my father’s advice to me and I tell him ’You’re not even necessary, now.’ The business of law has changed such that companies want you to be much more of a partner in their decision making. Gone are the days when you basically read out the sections, gave your obvious interpretation and said this is what should happen and if it doesn’t then its three times penalty under FEMA and its jail under this statute. Business lawyers have now I think transformed. They’ve morphed into a person that really at the height of his or her practice has to be the trusted advisor where the client feels that that percentage of weightage that he gives in his decision making, a fair amount of weightage is given to his trusted legal advisor,"  Mody said.

On the subject of disputes, she said, “As lawyers, when we see a fight coming, I truly believe even though I am a litigator for 10 years and the best rush is the adrenalin of a court, really, we have a duty as business lawyers to foresee and preempt - when you see trouble brewing, you owe it to your client and sit down and see if you can nip it. The more it festers, the more difficult it becomes and you have placed your client in a not-so-clear position simply because it’s not that you want the two-three months, but very often you don’t give it enough time at the right time."

The concluding session of day two and effectively the conclave was "White Collar Crimes, Insider Trading and Anti Corruption Legislation" which discussed human trafficking, money laundering, insider trading, drug smuggling, illegal arms dealing, terrorism, bribery and cyber crime.

The other speakers included Abhijit Mukhopadhyay, President (Legal), Hinduja Group; S. Ramaswamy, Group General Counsel, Escorts; and A.S.Kumar, General Counsel, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories.

The conclave ended with Ms. Raizada extending her heartfelt thanks to Justice Srikrishna, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India; Rajeev Shukla, Minister of State in the Ministry of Parliamentary Affairs and Planning, Government of India; Ashish Kumar Chauhan, Managing Director & CEO, BSE; and Chairperson of the Conference M. R. Prasanna, among other distinguished speakers and delegates from various organizations who participated.

As a Chairperson M. R. Prasanna concluded the evening by thanking everyone who were present. He said, “After the discussion is over, please join us for tea and of course networking. So please do as much networking you wish including talking to people about your interests. And I as a Chairperson of this conference take immense pleasure to thank every one of you for making this event a success. Particularly, because as a long weekend many people had plans but look at the number of people present here in the hall! I am very gratified."

Also, Ms. Raizada expressed her gratitude towards everyone who attended the conference and made it a remarkable platform for discussions and lessons that individuals could take back home with them.

Legal Era is also thankful to all their sponsors, Banking Partner - YES Bank; TV Partner - ET Now; Exchange Partner - BSE; Gold Partners - Kelley Drye & Warren LLP; DLA Piper and AZB & Partners; Silver Partners - SNG & Partners; DSK Legal; Pradesh Today; Bronze Partner - Sidley; Exhibitor - SEPC; Alliance Partners- SCCA and SIAC; Supporting Partners - SILF.Org; IOD; Print Partner - Business Standard; Outdoor Partners - Bright Outdoor Media Pvt Ltd.; PR Partner - Optimize PR; Talent Partner - ARA Consultants; Online Media Partner - legalera.in .