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Who’s who of the legal fraternity in the fray in Tata-vs-Mistry battle

20 December, 2016

The hostility between the Tata Group and ousted chairman Cyrus Mistry’s camp may soon be shifting out of the boardroom to the courts. Anticipating a full-blown legal battle, the two camps have already roped in the country’s leading legal experts and law firms to fight it out on their behalf.

Well-known names in the legal fraternity such as Raian Karanjawala, Iqbal Chagla, Harish Salve, Abhishek Manu Singhvi, Kapil Sibal, P Chidambaram, Somasekhar Sundaresan, Sharan Jagtiani, Cyril Shroff and Shardul Shroff are in the fray to play their part in one of the most high-profile and controversial boardroom battles in the country.

People in the know of the developments said that the Ratan Tata camp made quick moves early on and roped in most of the top legal counsels in New Delhi and Mumbai. VCCircle has learnt that as soon as the rift became public, Tata reached out to Raian Karanjawala, founder of law firm Karanjawala & Co, and mandated him to build a solid legal team. Karanjawala got Salve, Sibal, Singhvi, Mohan Parasaran, and Rajiv Nayar on board the same day of getting the mandate, people quoted above said.

Later, senior counsels including Sidharth Luthra and Amit Sibal were also brought on board. The Tata camp is also learnt to have consulted Congress MP, former Union minister and leading lawyer P Chidambaram on few key issues.

From Mumbai, the group roped in Desai, Venkatesh Dhond, Aspi Chinoy, Ravi Kadam and Zal Andhyarujina. Law firms started by estranged brothers Cyril and Shardul Shroff, too, are advising the group on strategies on multiple fronts. The group has also roped in Zulfiqar Memon, founder of boutique firm MZM Legal that specializes in white collar crime. MZM Legal had advised Tata Group on AirAsia case.

The legal team employed by the Mistry camp is leaner. Cyrus’ case is being led by his father-in-law and also, one of the most prominent legal experts in the country Iqbal Chagla. Chagla has a clutch of leading legal minds and law firms working with him. These include Sundaresan, former partner of law firm JSA; Apurva Diwanji, senior partner of law firm Desai & Diwanji; senior counsels Janak Dwarkadas and Sharan Jagtiani.

Dwarkadas, incidentally, is also representing Nusli Wadia in the Rs 3,000 crore defamation case the septuagenarian businessman has filed in Bombay High Court against Tata and the group.

The Mistry camp, meanwhile, has also sought advice from Aryama Sundaram and Shyam Divan, both leading legal counsels.

Outside of the lawyers representing the Tata and the Mistry camps, there are counsels such as Navroz Seervai, who is representing a clutch of investors in the Bombay High Court who are seeking Mistry’s reappointment in the Tata Group.

“If the actual court battle starts, it will be between the lawyers of Delhi and Mumbai. We are expecting many more lawyers to join the respective battalions in the coming days,” said a senior counsel from Delhi who is part of the Tata camp.

The acrimony between the country’s two leading business families and corporate leaders began when Tata Sons, on October 24, suddenly ousted Mistry, the then chairman of the group, and appointed Ratan Tata as the interim chairman.

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Who’s who of the legal fraternity in the fray in Tata-vs-Mistry battle

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