LexTalk World Interviews Nidhi Singh. Nidhi graduated as a Gold Medalist in B.B.A. LL.B. (Hons.) from KIIT School of Law, Odisha. She has read for MSc Law & Finance on full scholarship as Weidenfeld-Hoffmann & Chevening Scholar at Faculty of Law, University of Oxford. She is an alumna of Harvard Kennedy School of Government where she has studied Public Policy. She holds an M.A. in Economics for Competition Law from King's College, London. Continuing with her interest in antitrust laws, she is enrolled as a JSM & SPILS Fellowship recipient at Stanford Law School, USA where she specialises in Law, Science & Technology and shall move on to a doctoral studies in Antitrust laws. She is currently a practising Counsel before the Supreme Court of India and an empanelled lawyer with the Delhi High Court, where she engages in both Civil and Criminal litigation and has a decade of experience in Competition laws. She also serves as a Deputy Director for Centre for Competition Law & Policy (CCLP) at GLA University and an Adjunct Faculty in Law & Economics at NLSIU, Bangalore, NALSAR, Hyderabad & NUJS, Kolkata. She has presented her work on Competition laws at Harvard Law School, Oxford, Cambridge, Columbia, Yale, Stanford, World Bank, World Trade Organisation & United Nations. Recently she delivered a keynote speech on Competition issues at Indian Institute of Corporate Affairs, Ministry of Corporate Affairs, Govt. of India & United Nations Internet Governance Forum, Poland.
Host: Tell us about a complex legal issue you worked on. Describe the complexity and tell us how you approached it?
Nidhi: One of the leading cases on predatory pricing in India is MCX v. NSE. I got an opportunity to work on this case. The case involved the determination of complex issue of monopoly leveraging by NSE. According to the information, various fee waivers and the low level of deposit requirements only with respect to the Currency Derivatives (CD) market were considered completely at variance with NSE’s conduct in other segments and were aimed at eliminating competition and discouraging potential entrants. This was one of the first cases on monopoly leveraging in India. To understand the behaviour in question better, I relied on leading European cases like Tetra Pak, Microsoft and Intel. The NSE in this case by not charging transaction fee was subsidising activities in CD segment which was open to competition and was using its monopoly profits to leverage its position. To legally establish this complexity, was one of the challenging tasks that I faced as a competition lawyer.
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?
Nidhi: While pandemic made things more uncertain, it also prepared us for new challenges. I personally think lawyers are quite reluctant to adapt new technology. Online hearings, filings and the virtual set up somehow has forced the lawyers to get accustomed to this change. For young lawyers, this has been quite challenging given that it has somehow restricted their clientele base, however for senior lawyers and members of the Bar, this could be a welcome move. While things might appear to be easy and accessible both for the litigants and lawyers for some time, this might affect access to justice in the long run. It is also important to state here that with change in the current health scenario across the world, it is a must that we get comfortable with online court system.
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?
Nidhi: The current legal system’s and more particularly the role of judiciary in enabling access to justice has played a crucial role in securing just social order. The judiciary has very well-articulated the norms for a balanced society by interpreting various basic rights through the given fundamental rights enshrined under the Constitution. It has helped in making the state more accountable and accessible. Procedural rules have been well explained by the courts to facilitate equal access to remedial measures available through the courts. Many high courts and the Supreme Court also has been quite active in providing legal aid to ensure free and speedy trial.
Host: What is the importance of good legal education in establishing a successful law practice? How does it help in building a robust clientele base?
Nidhi: Good legal education acts like a strong foundation stone for a lawyer. It helps build a right attitude for lifetime that is essential to become a good lawyer. From adept writing skills to strong legal research acumen- all of this comes handy while practising as a Counsel before the courts in country. Further, legal education from reputed institutions both India and abroad helps in getting a good clientele base based on the network of friends and people you meet abroad or at leading law schools of India. Both of this, does play a role in shaping the legal career trajectory of a successful lawyer in India.
Host: Time is money in any profession and in legal it's most of all. How do you ensure to make the best of your time as a lawyer and contribute to the overall growth of the legal community?
Nidhi: I have always held the philosophy that one needs to be flexible and adaptable. The legal profession could change at any time. It is, thus exceptionally important to evolve one's practice with the times, whilst still maintaining the integrity of your core values. Good, affordable and efficient legal services should always be the order of the day, regardless of the manner in which those services are rendered. I have the tenacity, motivation and intuition to be able to take whatever challenge is thrown my way. However, this is always aided by preparation and constantly checking myself against my peers.
I have always ensured that I surround myself with people from all socio-economic backgrounds, as this diversity is what feeds a dynamic practice. It is because of this diverse group of people that I have met over the years that our firm deals with so many different kinds of legal matters. My age is a massive contributing factor to my success. Clients can see that I am ambitious, hardworking and willing to tackle each case head-on. I have ensured that I am well read on the latest developments on a specific case to ensure that the client is provided with relevant and accurate advice.
I have always offered paid internships to students of both National and Non-national law schools of India and ensure their best possible development in legal field during and after the period of internship. Additionally, I have integrated my knowledge of Competition law gained from Oxford, Harvard & Stanford education along with the legal practice in the industry in a manner such that I am offering course on Comparative Competition Law (U.S., India, U.K. and India) at NLSIU, NALSAR, NUJS & GLA Law in India. In this way, I have brought my learning from best places of the world to my home country for the greater benefit of the legal community.
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