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LexTalk World Talk Show with Kartik Gupta, Founder & Managing Director at Panaya Consulting.



Kartik is a financial/legal expert with nearly two decades of transnational experience, having worked in Asia, Europe and the Americas. As a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Certified Valuation Analyst (CVA), an internationally trained lawyer and an accountant (Fellow), Kartik has deep understanding of business operations, regulatory requirements, and the applicable legislative framework during a business’ life cycle. Passionate about ADR; Kartik has worked and assisted as an expert on numerous international commercial arbitration matters, the seats of some which include SIAC, HKIAC, ICC and the LCIA. He also has significant experience in providing strategic advice (including conducting subject) Kartik has extensive experience in the areas of dispute advisory and litigation support. He has worked on various engagements involving quantification of damages and economic loss claims in commercial disputes, international arbitration matters, shareholders’ disputes, expropriation claims and matrimonial matters. In addition, he has conducted several transnational investigations, across numerous international jurisdictions including SE Asia, Africa, Americas and the Caribbean. Kartik is a published author and has spoken at various fora on topics such as quantification of damages in disputes, fraud, corruption and business valuations. Kartik’s industry experience is diverse, cutting across industries and sectors. He has worked on engagements spanning through various sectors such as oil & gas, infrastructure, real estate & construction, financial services, and industrial & consumer products.


Interview:

Host: Besides being a lawyer, I see you have several other designations. Could you elaborate on one of the key areas of your expertise?


Kartik: Yes, I hold several designations apart from my law degree, each of which complement unique areas of my work and assist in offering a more holistic set of services. Most, if not all of my clients, trust and value my advice and I believe knowledge, experience and credentials play a big role in building that trust.


I am often consulted and appointed by lawyers, their clients, or tribunals and courts to act as independent quantum expert and assess damages in disputes or ascertain the value of underlying assets in a particular case. And so I picked up several designations along the way that would complement my skill set and add credibility to my work. To that effect, besides being a LAWYER, I am a Fellow Chartered Accountant, a Certified Fraud Examiner & a Certified Business Valuator from US, a member of the prestigious Chartered Institute of Securities and Investments, based in England. Oh and not to forget a Qualified Arbitrator.


Having practiced as a forensic and quantum expert on dispute matters over the better part of my 17-year career, I’ve worked with numerous law firms and multinational clients across several international jurisdictions, assisting them on matters as big as several billion dollars or as small as few hundred thousand in terms of the assessed value of losses or damages.


Host: While we are on this topic, could you elaborate more on the role of a quantum expert and what makes for a good quantum expert testimony?


Kartik: Ofcourse, As an expert I have a duty to the tribunal or the court and its my role to provide an independent assessment of the value of claim/asset in dispute. Generally, an expert would give valuations based on both parties’ positions, in order to assist the tribunal to come to a ‘reasoned’ conclusion. However, that’s seldom the case, as more often than not, an expert would be instructed by one of the parties to present their case as effectively as possible. Well, unless it’s a joint appointment or the expert is appointed by the tribunal or the court.


To answer the second part of your question, a good quantum expert testimony is all about preparation. An expert ought to be intimately familiar with his Report, which, besides the value assessment generally includes the pleaded case, the facts, the assumptions, and the opinions – of oneself and other consulting experts on the file. In fact, I often familiarize myself with the opposing expert’s Report in detail in order to be better prepared for the likely line of questioning by the opposing counsel.


Something that I have learnt in my years of experience in the area – an effective quantum expert is not just the deliverer of facts, but is also a persuasive storyteller, framing their findings into a compelling narrative. I would like to add that the art of answering questions is equally important for an expert. Short, crisp to-the-point answers that are based on facts are always a delight for the decision makers as opposed to long-winded, technical-heavy answers that perhaps requires another expert to decipher and explain!


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?


Kartik: Legal field has come to age because of Covid. One of the exceptional, and I would add, a positive outcome of the pandemic, was the acceptability of remote access to work, knowledge and in the spirit of your question, remote access to justice.


Mandatory lockdowns during the initial phase of the pandemic paralysed the judicial system across the world. As the pandemic lingered, and restrictions continued far beyond expectations, Courts were compelled to rethink the conventional approach to justice; i.e. in-person courts and proceedings.


To restart the legal system and restore access to judicial proceedings, many countries deployed secured virtual platforms that enabled remote court proceedings and availability. In fact, in my experience working on cases during the past 2 years in Canada, I believe that virtual proceedings have made significant progress in increasing access to justice. Clients now have the option to engage with experienced professionals across geographical barriers, which would have precluded them before the pandemic. This has also increased market competition resulting in more cost-efficient access to justice, which I believe, was somewhat unavailable in the pre-pandemic era.


People can now access court proceedings in the most remote corners, given they have access to affordable communication; which so happens to be one of the major barriers in sustainable access to justice. One of the key drivers for remote proceedings and availability is adequate and affordable access to communication, which if not available will impede the success and sustainability of remote access to justice.


So, to answer the 2nd part of your question, is it sustainable? Definitely; with a couple of caveats – (1) there is adequate access to affordable communication, and (2) perhaps the most important, the ability to overcome the most innate human need - to interact with one another, in-person.


Host: In the era of legal technology, what are the most commonly used tools for you?


Kartik: Some of the legal tech tools we all have become quite familiar and quite honestly experts at using are the video conferencing tools such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom, Google Meet, Cisco, and the list goes on.


I won’t take more time to elaborate on those. However, what I would like to talk about is the direction in which legal technology has headed in terms of e-Discovery and AI powered investigative software.


Over the past few years, I have worked with different e-Discovery platforms and AI based investigative tools and what I found are 2 software that I like to work with and recommend to most of my clients; Relativity and Power BI.


I’m sure most of your viewers would be familiar with Relativity, an e-Discovery platform that assists lawyers through the digital discovery process. I have assisted several clients using this platform. Once you have the documents digitized, you can search and identify relevant documents with relative ease. I am also quite impressed about its AI capabilities which makes the process faster than manually searching through thousands of documents.


The other tool is Power BI, a Machine Learning based investigative software that I use quite often on forensic investigative engagements for our clients. The software expedites the investigation process by digitizing a part of the process, constructively keeping costs in check.


Host: Interesting that you mentioned AI based investigations and e-Discovery tools. Could you elaborate more on your expertise in this area and what excites you the most about these tools?


Kartik: Absolutely, We at Panaya Consulting have extensive experience working with these tools. We have access to the full suite of services with both Relativity and Power BI.


The self-learning capabilities of both these tools help reduce manhours and keep costs in control. However as is the case with most technology, it is essential to have an experienced and knowledgeable driver at the helm, efficiently navigating through the process. Since the tools require huge amounts of raw data, an expert (often forensic accountants) are required to navigate and analyze the data, provide intermittent instructions, and review and interpret results.