Consumer Protection E-commerce Rules – The EduTech Impact

Background

The last few years have seen customers and industry alike benefit from their increased focus on digital platforms in a changing world. Education technology, which is a prominent business vertical of the education sector, stands out for diversifying the means of learning and teaching to an extent that both students and parents have accepted online teaching models as supplement to the formal education system. While the Edutech space was steadily gaining traction, Covid’s sudden impact on physical learning afforded this sector an unparallel opportunity. The approximately USD 800 million investment into the sector in the first six months of 2020 justifies the narrative of emerging as the `next big thing.’ Continue Reading Consumer Protection E-commerce Rules – The EduTech Impact 

USING SPAC VEHICLES AS A MEANS OF LISTING OUTSIDE INDIA

An overview 

Special Purpose Acquisition Companies (“SPACs”) have made a comeback on the Wall Street. SPACs are essentially investment companies backed by sponsors to raise capital from the public in an initial public offering (“IPO”) in the USA for the sole purpose of using the proceeds to acquire targets that are to be identified after the IPO. The eventual objective is to list the target. As of July 31, 2020, SPACs have raised close to USD 24 billion globally this year. The buzz around SPACs with available funding has reached Indian shores on the possibility of Indian companies being potential SPAC targets or Indian companies teaming up with SPACs to potentially list themselves in overseas markets. Continue Reading Using SPAC Vehicles as a Means of Listing Outside India

Gujarat Industrial Policy 2020 A Renewed Focus on Attracting Investment

 

­­­­­­­­­The Indian economy has not been immune to the side-effects of COVID-19, particularly as far as the healthcare and financial systems are concerned. Amidst such global economic turbulence, the Indian government has made efforts to boost the economy by announcing a significant economic stimulus package under the Atmanirbhar Bharat (self-reliant India) scheme. Many state governments in India have also swung into action to incentivise investment and capitalise on the opportunity offered by the pandemic, wherein several global businesses heavily dependent on China are reconsidering their business continuity plans and looking at alternative manufacturing bases.

Gujarat has a distinct advantage in this area on account of its pro-business government initiatives, conducive business ecosystem and progressive infrastructure. The Government of Gujarat (“GoG”) is continuously pushing for reforms and has rolled out the red carpet to foreign investors looking to invest in the state, resulting in the state receiving the highest national increment of 240% in FDI inflows in financial year 2019-20 compared to the previous year.[1] Continue Reading Gujarat Industrial Policy 2020: A Renewed Focus on Attracting Investment

WHAT IS FRONT RUNNING – A Q&A PIECE IN LIGHT OF THE SEBI ORDER AGAINST DEALERS OF RELIANCE SECURITIES LTD

Introduction

In an interim ex-parte order last month against the dealers of Reliance Securities Limited (“RSL”) and other related entities (“RSL Order”)[1], SEBI prima facie held over two dozen entities to have engaged in front running the trades of Tata Absolute Return Fund, a scheme of Tata AIF (“Big Client”).

During its preliminary examination, SEBI meticulously pieced together several bits of available circumstantial evidence and alleged an archetypal scheme of front running purportedly employed by three senior dealers (“Dealers”) at RSL, in nexus with various related entities. The RSL Order alleges that once the Dealers at RSL were privy to the non-public information of the impending orders of Big Client, they along with their connected broker or dealer entity would, through multiple trading accounts directly or indirectly controlled by them, place trades either in the Buy-Buy-Sell pattern or Sell-Sell-Buy pattern, around the time of the orders of the Big Client to generate substantial proceeds. Continue Reading What is Front Running? – A Q&A Piece in Light of the SEBI Order Against Dealers of Reliance Securities Ltd.

NEP 2020 - VOCATIONAL EDUCATION - FUEL FOR THE INDIAN DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND

The United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) has defined ‘demographic dividend’ as the growth potential that results from shifts in a population’s age structure.[1] A study conducted by the UNFPA noted that India has an important window of demographic dividend opportunity from about 2005-06 to 2055-56 with 62.5% of the population falling in the working age group of 15 and 59 years. It is expected that the slice of working age group will rise to 65% (approximately) by 2036.[2] This study also recognised the importance of imparting vocational education (VE) to avail the benefits of the demographic dividend.

The National Education Policy, 2020 (Policy) recognises the seminal role of VE in building the Indian demographic dividend. The Policy observes that less than 5% of the Indian workforce within the age bracket of 19–24 years received formal VE when compared to countries such as the USA (52%), Germany (75%), and South Korea (96%).[3] While identifying the need to hasten the development of vocational skills, the Policy highlights the importance of removing rigid distinctions between vocational and academic streams, and eliminating harmful hierarchies between different areas of learning. Continue Reading NEP 2020: VOCATIONAL EDUCATION – FUEL FOR THE INDIAN DEMOGRAPHIC DIVIDEND

Avitel v. HSBC: Finality on the Question of Arbitrability when Allegations of Fraud are Raised By Indranil Deshmukh, Vineet Unnikrishnan and Samhita Mehra The Supreme Court in the case of Avitel Post Studioz Limited v. HSBC PI Holdings (Mauritius) Limited (“Avitel Case”) has recently engaged with the question of whether allegations of fraud can be adjudicated in arbitration, or whether they require adjudication before a court. In its judgment, the Court has laid down clear tests to determine when a dispute involving allegation of fraud is arbitrable, and when it would require adjudication before a court. Material Facts In this case, a Share Subscription Agreement (“SSA”) dated April 21, 2011, was entered into between Avitel and HSBC, by way of which HSBC invested USD 60 million in Avitel to acquire 7.80% of its shareholding. The SSA contained a clause providing for arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre in case of a dispute. An accompany Shareholders’ Agreement (“SHA”) dated May 6, 2011, was also executed, which contained an identical arbitration clause. Thereafter, a dispute arose between the parties. HSBC alleged that the promoters of Avitel, namely, the Jain Family, had induced HSBC to invest in Avitel by making a representation that Avitel was on the verge of finalising a lucrative contract with the British Broadcasting Corporation. HSBC alleged that there was no such contract, and that around USD 51 million from the USD 60 million investment had in fact been siphoned away to other companies owned or controlled by the Jain Family. Arbitral proceedings were initiated, and a final award was passed in favour of HSBC inter alia holding the above allegations to be true (“Award”). The matter reached the Supreme Court in the context of a petition under Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”), filed by HSBC seeking orders of deposit of the full claim amount of USD 60 million to protect the subject matter of the Award, pending enforcement of the same. Issues and Discussion The Supreme Court was asked to consider whether HSBC had a prima facie case for enforcement of the Award in India. Challenging the enforcement of the Award, it was contended on behalf of Avitel that since the allegations of fraud have been made in arbitral proceedings involving serious criminal offences, such as forgery and impersonation, such a dispute is not arbitrable then under Indian law and the award unenforceable, as a consequence. On behalf of HSBC, it was contended that non-arbitrability would be triggered only in cases where serious allegations of fraud would vitiate the arbitration agreement and not in other cases. After taking stock of the jurisprudence on this point thus far, the Court held that “serious allegations of fraud”, leading to non-arbitrability would arise only if either of following two tests were satisfied, and not otherwise. 1. Where the Court finds that the arbitration agreement itself cannot be said to exist being vitiated by fraud; or 2. Where allegations are made against the State or its instrumentalities, relating to arbitrary, fraudulent, or mala fide conduct, giving rise to question of public law as opposed to questions limited to the contractual relationship between the parties. This means that all other cases involving “serious allegations of fraud” i.e. cases that do not meet the above two tests laid down by the Supreme Court, would be arbitrable. Applying the aforesaid test to the facts before it, the Court found that the issues raised and answered in the Award were the subject matter of civil as opposed to criminal proceedings. The fact that a separate criminal proceeding was sought to be initiated by HSBC is of no consequence whatsoever. It was held that the impersonation, false representations and siphoning of funds found to have been committed were all inter parties and had no “public flavour” so as to be non-arbitrable on account of allegations of fraud. As such, the Supreme Court inter alia upheld the orders of deposit of the full claim amount of USD 60 million to be kept aside for the purposes of enforcement of the Award in India. Way Forward The Supreme Court’s judgment in the Avitel Case lends clarity to courts and arbitral tribunals, which should aid in weeding out incessant and creative submissions to “wriggle out” out of arbitration agreements. The two grounds forming exceptions to arbitrability of matters involving serious allegations of fraud as crystallised by the Supreme Court are clearly identifiable and easily discernable. Therefore, the judgment in the Avitel Case is likely to save precious judicial time that may otherwise have been spent in deliberating on the question of arbitrability of a dispute involving allegations of fraud.  

The Supreme Court in the case of Avitel Post Studioz Limited v. HSBC PI Holdings (Mauritius) Limited[1] (“Avitel Case”) has recently engaged with the question of whether allegations of fraud can be adjudicated  in arbitration, or whether they require adjudication before a court. In its judgment, the Court has laid down clear tests to determine when a dispute involving allegation of fraud is arbitrable, and when it would require adjudication before a court. Continue Reading Avitel v. HSBC – Finality on the Question of Arbitrability when Allegations of Fraud are Raised SMM

NeSL - THE NEW WAY OF ELECTRONIC EXECUTION

 INTRODUCTION

Execution of a document means the placement of signatures by all persons who are required by the character of the instrument to sign the same in order to give it a binding effect under law. It is based on the classic principle of consensus ad idem i.e. two parties entering a contract should agree upon the same thing in the same sense. One amongst the many problems for closure of transactions posed by COVID-19 is the mechanism of execution of documents. The traditional way of executing agreements involved the parties to be physically present at a place and affix the signatures, stamps, common seals, etc., along with paying the necessary stamp duty as prescribed under the relevant stamp laws. However, with the imposition of a nationwide lockdown, travel restrictions and norms of social distancing in place, the manner of execution of documents has had to be reimagined. Continue Reading NeSL: THE NEW WAY OF ELECTRONIC EXECUTION

Nep 2020- An Interplay Of Education And Technology

The National Education Policy, 2020 (“Policy”), unveiled by the Ministry of Human Resource Development (“MHRD”), is revolutionary in every sense. While the Policy focuses on multiple aspects, including the need for early childhood care, inclusive education and revamping of the current curriculum, an inherent thread that runs through the Policy is the interplay of education and technology.

Over the last decade, India has transformed itself into an ‘information intensive society’ and there is a growing requirement to embrace the usage of technology in the field of education. In this regard, the Policy notes that one of the central principles steering the education system will be the ‘extensive use of technology in teaching and learning, removing language barriers, increasing access as well as education planning and management’. Continue Reading NEP 2020: An Interplay of Education and Technology

The Centrotrade Enforcement Saga Ends on a High Note

The recent judgment of Centrotrade Minerals v. Hindustan Copper[1] had seen two previous rounds of litigation before the Supreme Court finally enforced a foreign award, passed in 2001 after 19 years, in favour of Centrotrade.

Background

The Appellant, Centrotrade, a US company and the Respondent, Hindustan Copper Ltd. (HCL), an Indian company, entered into a contract under which Centrotrade was required to supply 15,500 DMT of copper concentrate to HCL at Kandla Port in India. Centrotrade supplied the concentrate, but disputes arose over the dry weight of the concentrate supplied.

Two-tiered Arbitration

The arbitration agreement in the contract provided for a two-tiered, arbitration: a first arbitration in India, which could be appealed by the unsatisfied party through a second arbitration to be conducted by ICC in London.

Centrotrade invoked arbitration and in 1999 the Indian arbitration rendered a ‘nil award.’ This award was carried in appeal by Centrotrade to an ICC arbitration in London. Continue Reading The Centrotrade Enforcement Saga Ends on a High Note

Revised Framework for Core Investment Companies – Tightening the Screws

Introduction

The Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) has modified the regulatory landscape applicable to core investment companies (“CICs”), as per its circular dated August 13, 2020 (“Revised Framework”), in order to ensure stability of the financial system and address systemic risks posed by inter-connectedness of CICs and their group companies. In contrast to the light-touch regulation issued exactly a decade ago on August 12, 2010, the Revised Framework imposes far more stricter norms.

In furtherance to its announcement in the Statement on Development and Regulatory Policies issued on June 6, 2019, along with the Second Bi-Monthly Monetary Policy for the year 2019-20, the RBI constituted a working group under the chairmanship of Mr. Tapan Ray (non-executive chairman, Central Bank of India and former secretary, Ministry of Corporate Affairs) (“Working Group”) to review the regulatory and supervisory framework applicable to CICs. The Working Group issued its report in November 2019 and the Revised Framework has now been issued based on the recommendations of the Working Group. Continue Reading Revised Framework for Core Investment Companies – Tightening the Screws?