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LexTalk World Talk Show with Bankim Mehta, Founder & Partner at Bankim Mehta & Associates

Mr. Bankim Mehta a Commerce graduate is also a qualified Company Secretary and a law graduate. He has completed his post graduate diploma degree in Securities Law. Mr. Mehta has also completed a certificate course on Data Protection Law from Singapore. He is also a member of internationally recognised International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).

Mr. Mehta has rich experience of over 19 years and he has worked in managerial position with the leading Financial Advisory, Investment Banking and Stock Broking entities in India. In addition, he has served on the Advisory Board of an Executive Hotel chain in India and has also served on the Panel of a novel healthcare services to Pharmaceutical Organizations and Patient in the area of Lifestyle Medicine as a Legal Consultant. He has also served on the Board of Conatus Technologies Private Limited and Junobo Hotels Pvt. Ltd. He has extensive experience in Conducting Legal Due Diligence, Risk Analysis and Mitigation and Management Strategy Planning, Obtaining Regulatory Approvals, Documentation and Negotiations. He has advised and counselled Investment Bankers, National and International Companies and Institutions in Automobile, Banking, Financial Services, Biotech, Health Care, Pharmaceuticals, BPO, Communications, Entertainment and Media, Information and Broadcasting, Luxury Hotels, Manufacturing, Real Estate Sector. He specializes in Corporate and Commercial Laws, Employment Laws, Property Laws and Real Estate Transactions, Project Finance for Infrastructure Projects and Development, Intellectual Property Rights related issues and transactions relating to Entertainment, Information Technology and Pharmaceutical Industry, Alternate Dispute Mechanism Strategy, Legal Risk Audit and Management, Contract Risk Audit and Management.

Host: Tell us about a complex legal issue you worked on. Describe the complexity and tell us how you approached it?

Bankim: There is not one legal matter that comes to mind which does not bear complexities. Every facet in law is complex and this is the reason clients consult lawyers. So rather than discussing a particular legal issue, I would like to highlight the challenges our team faced while handling an assignment during the pandemic. We are all aware of the impacts of the pandemic globally and experienced a strict national lockdown in order to curb the transmission of the novel coronavirus in 2020. During this imposed lockdown my team and I were handling an equity investment assignment involving overseas investors in an Indian firm. It was imperative to execute this assignment within a very tight time frame including due diligence, conducting board and general body meetings, various compliances required under Indian law, drafting intricate investment agreements, payment of stamp duties and so forth. Time was of the essence in conducting this entire transaction. The first challenge we encountered was the delayed receipt of physically signed documents from the overseas parties involved as there were limited courier services available and even less accessibility to international flights for business. The next challenge we faced was the convenience of location and approval for travel to specific authorized banks as a number of our team members were working remotely from their homes. This posed a significant threat to our timeline as payment for e-stamp duty were vital and signed agreements must comply with Indian law to be duly stamped by the permitted bank. Swift action was taken to coordinate with the Bank to issue a requisite authority letter to grant our staff consent. to commute during the lockdown in order to obtain the document needed from the Bank and then arrange for delivery to the client’s office.

Completing this entire transaction within such a narrow time frame remained our greatest challenge, however due to our collective determination and excellent teamwork we were able to tackle these obstacles and were very pleased with the desired results. With the strength of determination, one can overcome any challenge.

Host: The pandemic saw some courts begin moving towards more remote proceedings and availability. Is this sustainable, and a possible way to increase access to justice, in your opinion?

Bankim: Absolutely! In my opinion moving towards an online/virtual system for conducting legal proceedings is sustainable and the way forward to increasing access to justice.

Together, the Indian Government along with the Judiciary had done an exceptional job in orchestrating an IT infrastructure during the nationwide lockdown within a very short time span. This plan of action reduced further backlog within the Judiciary and helped maintain continuity.

With minor glitches such as connectivity and internet access or the lack of sufficient operational training and having the required bandwidth for online proceedings, I felt the entire model was well conducted despite being new and unfamiliar for everyone including Government, Courts, lawyers, registry and litigants.

Understandably many advocates endured initial difficulties as they were trying to familiarize with the new design from remote locations. Without the necessarytools and support,they were often unable to attend legal proceedings for a period of time. Fortunately, under such circumstances the Courts were mindful and considerate whilemoving forward with proceedings, as they too, endured some of the same hurdles. With patience and education most lawyers and litigants currently have fully functional set-ups back at home.

I remain optimistic and in favour of conducting legal proceedings remotely as it carries multiple benefits to all the stakeholders including governments, courts, lawyers and litigants. Providing online legal proceedings allows a greater reach with helping clients have access to justice and possibly having justice sooner.

Having an onlinesystem effectively minimizes the stress on courts having to managea wide range of staff, lawyers, litigants and variouspersons on the court premises. The online model also reducesadjournment dates as it enables accessibility to lawyers or other parties.

It facilitates lawyersto appear in any judicialsystem across the country from their privateor virtual offices. This is extremely helpful as it eliminates commute times therefore providing valuable hours for office work and/or consulting with clients.

Lastly, remote proceedings are financially beneficial to litigants. They already bear litigation costs, therefore online proceedings would cancel travel and accommodation expenses for those residing in another city or state and having to travel for the purpose of attending court. It is easy to see why virtual proceedings carry valuable benefits to all parties involved.

To summarize, I would state that performing legal matters through an online platform opens the door of opportunity to the public at large for seeking justice and is truly the way forward in the future. With the positive benefits and efficacy of conducting court matters online, I am confident that the Government along with the Judiciary will strive towards a hybrid infrastructure equipped with leading-edge technology and innovation that will raise standards globally.

Host: How would you rate the current legal system's drive towards encouraging access to justice? Is there tangible movement in closing the justice gap?

Bankim: When comparing the justice system from the past to current practices, there are significant improvements. Hon’ble Judges are pushing to expedite proceedings and granting relief to the litigants. However, lengthy litigation waitlists continue to grow with new suits being filed daily causing further backlog. The appointment of more judgesis required in order to meet the increasing demandsof pending cases. Effortsare being made to appointjudges and bridge this gap. Given the early stage of the process, I look forward to reduced wait times and access to justice sooner in the near future.

Host: Time is money in any profession and in legal it's most of all. How do you ensure to make the best of you time as a lawyer?

Bankim: I believe that ‘health is wealth’ and ‘time is money’. Hence,time and health complement one another. It’s important to utilize our time wiselyand without ignoringour health. I give equal priority to both my work (time) and exercise regularly (health) in order to maintain balance both mentally and physically.

Similarly, I believe that money (wealth) comes in different forms. Anything that provides you with happiness and satisfaction in life, is a form of wealth.

I continue to include pro bono cases within my practice and am always available to assist and offer my legal advice to the best of my capabilities for anyone who is not financially secure enough to afford legal services. I feel a deep sense of gratitude when I am able to give back to the community in this way. We charge fees to those who can afford legal counsel, as this is how we balanceour money and wealth (on a lighter note.




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