LexTalk World interviews Mr. Sumes Dewan, Managing Partner has over two decades of experience, advising on a variety of cross border deals, M&A transactions and international listing transactions. He continues to be associated with a number of complex and prestigious projects in different sectors. He represents large and reputed Indian companies, foreign investors and multinational corporations (including Fortune 100 companies) in various sectors.
Mr. Dewan specializes in Foreign Investment in India, Project Financing, Mergers & Acquisitions, Corporate Laws, Joint Ventures, Corporate Laws & FEMA, Joint Ventures, Hospitality, Real Estate and Banking and Finance and has been advising clients on complex legal issues. Mr. Dewan has been nominated as a leading lawyer by numerous global publications and has been consistently awarded numerous awards including “lawyer of the year” awards by various organizations.
Mr. Dewan is one of few lawyers in India to be admitted as an Honorary fellow of the Association of Fellows and Legal Scholars, Center for International Studies; and Member of Congress of Fellows of the Center for International Legal Studies.
Mr. Dewan has been nominated by Asia Law Leading Lawyers survey 2007, 2008, 2009 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 as one of the most highly-acclaimed legal experts in the Asia-Pacific region in the practice area - Capital Markets & Corporate Finance.
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?
Sumes: The facets of the legal systems are changing swiftly. This change in conduct of proceedings remotely, is a wonderful aspect of the new normal and a significant plus which resulted due to the pandemic. The pandemic as well as the lockdowns set the envision of a virtual legal framework into being. After the Covid-19 pandemic, and a lockdown, there was no delay on holding virtual proceedings. The Supreme Court devised various means in order to facilitate guidance on the technological front for an effective and efficient administration of justice to the people of India. Further, to effectuate the said, the Supreme Court of India laid down the “GUIDELINES FOR COURT FUNCTIONING THROUGH VIDEO CONFERENCING DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC.” The said Guidelines mentioned notable aspects, one of which states: “The Indian Judiciary has incorporated Information and Communication Technology systems through the e-Courts Integrated Mission Mode Project (e-Courts Project) as part of the National eGovernance Plan (NeGP) has reduced conventional impediments and legal uncertainty surrounding the use of virtual courts. ICT enabled infrastructure is available across all courts including the district judiciary, which constitutes the initial interface of the court system with the citizen.“ This intent of ICT travels long back and did not arise just as a result of the Covid-19 Pandemic. For example, in the case of State of Maharashtra v Praful Desai in the year 2003, the use of technology was acknowledged. It was held that ‘evidence’ absolutely includes electronic evidence, along with stating the fact that video conferencing may be used to record evidence.
Similarly, in my opinion, conducting virtual proceedings has its own advantages such as lesser court occupancy, and most importantly, it will also lead to considerably lesser paperwork and more so engage India to becoming digitally savvy. The same shall aid to utilization of time effectively and efficiently.
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?
Sumes: ‘Access to Justice’ as a term means every individual’s access to the court or an access to legal protection. The most significant aspects of “Access to Justice” includes the acknowledgement of the grievance, legal guidance, access to courts, etc.
Therefore, ‘Access to Justice’ required two imperative components such as having a well-structured legal system, identified by substantive legal provisions and having a system to provide a flexible accessibility to the litigant. The Constitution of India is the backbone of India’s legal framework. Its Preamble contains, articles like the Article 39A, which states; ”Equal justice and free legal aid.—The State shall secure that the operation of the legal system promotes justice, on a basis of equal opportunity, and shall, in particular, provide free legal aid, by suitable legislation or schemes or in any other way, to ensure that opportunities for securing justice are not denied to any citizen by reason of economic or other disabilities”. In India, the National Commission to Review the Working of Constitution (NCRWC), in its report had proposed the addition of Access to Justice as a Fundamental Right in terms of Art.30 A, which states “30 A. Access to Courts and Tribunals and Speedy justice.- (1) Everyone has a right to have any dispute that can be resolved by the application of law decided in fair public hearing before an independent court, or where appropriate, another independent and impartial tribunal or forum. (2). The right to access to courts shall deemed to include the right to reasonably speedy and effective justice in all matters before the courts, tribunal or other for and state shall take all reasonable steps to achieve the said objectives.” When a person’s grievance has been identified, the said identification can only be of any relevance if his right to access justice towards a redressal is intact. The said rights include an individual’s natural rights or basic and human rights, his Fundamental Rights, other constitutional rights, and other statutory rights. The said rights have been protected under the Constitution of India, as fundamental rights in terms of Part III, starting from Articles 14 to 32. These rights include the right to equality, freedoms, right to life, religious rights, minority rights which ensure constitutional remedies to citizens of India, in cases any of their fundamental rights are infringed.
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?
Sumes: Time is money in every profession and mostly it’s legal, absolutely.
In the legal profession and being a Managing Partner of a Firm is like having a responsibility of managing my professional responsibilities as well as the needs of running a law Firm. It is significant to timely close transactions effectively and efficiently. For me, time is all about spending it in maintaining a good balance between working on the transactions as well as leading my firm Lex Favios to reach greater heights.
From meeting clients in person to attending zoom calls on scheduled timings with clients, my day includes advising my clients on various fields of law, negotiations on final closings etc.
It’s imperative to strike the right balance, as Managing Partner of a Law Firm, one is required to be rain maker and bring in new clients, service existing clients, be abreast with latest laws and regulations and also be part of managing of the Firm. The quality of time one spends becomes more imperative as time is money.
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