In this blog post, Assim Sahni, pursuing M.A. in business law from NUJS, Kolkata, discusses the top 10 energy lawyers who are from and who practise in India.
Energy is the largest and one of the most dynamic industry sectors. The sector raises countless tests both administratively, politically and also technically. These range from the production of fossil fuels and traditional exploration to more modern methods of mining extraction methods (hydraulic fracturing or ‘fracking’), renewables and environmental protection.
In India, Energy as a sector has constantly been growing, and the policy around this subject has constantly been evolving with the growing needs of the country. With this, the need for good lawyers in this niche sector has constantly been evolving as companies try to mould their policy around the ever-changing legal environment. The need to interpret the rather complex laws around energy viz. the Electricity Act, 2003, a Policy of Foreign Direct Investment for this particular sector, has led to the advent of numerous lawyers and law firms operating in this sector. This research paper has tried to capture a list of the top ten lawyers in India, along with their brief profile.
Jatin Aneja is currently a Partner – Head of Projects, Energy & Infrastructure Practice at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas.
He has been awarded a lot on his various projects. He has been awarded the Energy Deal of the Year by Asian Lawyer (ALM Emerging Markets Awards 2014) and by IBLJ’s India Deals of the Year 2014 for his involvement in Indian Oil’s long-term LNG sale and purchase agreements with the United States. The Chambers Asia-Pacific 2015 guide recognises Jatin as a ‘Notable practitioner’ and describes him as an energy sector luminary. Jatin has been rated aa a recommended lawyer in the projects and energy practice by Chambers and Partners as well as by Asia Legal Business and Legal 500.
Jatin frequently handles energy and infrastructure matters for international and domestic clients. He has extensive experience in project and project finance related transactions in power, roads, ports, airports, oil and gas sector in India and has been involved in advising various Indian as well as multinational companies on commercial law aspects and other related legal advisory work.
Sumanto Basu heads the Project Finance Practice at Jyoti Sagar Associates, He has been commended for his expertise within the energy sector and is particularly specialised in advising on LNG projects and off-take agreements. It is said that he is a “high-calibre lawyer who is in high demand in India.” He primarily works on Electricity, Oil & Gas and Renewable Energy Project development and Project Financings. In addition, he also advises on other infrastructure projects such as Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG), Roads and Ports, Project Development issues, including, Project tenders, Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs), Fuel Supply Agreements (both Coal & Gas), with regard to Renewable Energy, he has advised on the establishment of multiple Wind Power, Hydro, Bo-mass and Solar Projects in India. He has advised multiple International Energy (Electricity, Oil & Gas and Renewable Energy) companies on their Indian projects. He has advised many large Indian Oil & Gas companies with regard to their domestic as well as international investments. He has been practising law for over seventeen years and has spent seven years in U.S. Law firms with a specific focus on the Energy sector. Sumanto has various publications in Energy journals and has recently submitted the chapter on Oil & Gas Laws in a book to be published by the Oxford University Press.
“Deal-oriented and pragmatic” Akshay Jaitly ” of Trilegal doesn’t look at things from a blinkered legal perspective, he has a broader vision; he wants to push boundaries, and that is what is impressive about him.”
Akshay deals with international clients and had previous work experience in Tokyo and London, and currently, heads the energy and infrastructure practice. He has significant experience in advising on projects in diverse sectors, including power, oil and gas, transport (roads, airports and metro rail), water and waste, renewable energy. He also advises largest international and Indian companies that are active in India’s energy and infrastructure sector.
Hemant Sahai of HSA Advocates is highly rated for his “knowledge, presentation and analysis, not only from a legal perspective but also from a strategic perspective.” He has a plethora of experience especially with respect to electricity construction projects. He had worked on a number of great projects like he legally advised Inabensa Bharat on the development of the DGEN transmission system for Torrent Power. He is accredited as one of the leading commercial and projects and energy lawyers in India and the Asian region. He has been awarded as the Infrastructure Lawyer of the Year by a reputed international legal publication – American Lawyer’s Emerging Markets Awards, in Singapore and has also been highly recommended as a leading lawyer by Asia Pacific Legal 500, Chambers Asia Pacific as well as Chambers Global, among many others. Currently, he is focused on Infrastructure and Energy, including Policy and Regulatory, Institutional Reform and Deregulation, infrastructure project development and other ancillary policies. He has been involved in the drafting of several regulatory and policy documents as well as legislations. He also advises domestic and international players with respect to their interest in the Indian energy and infrastructure space.
Abhishek Saxena of Phoenix Legal “doesn’t limit himself to the legal aspects, he goes beyond the legalese and comes in from a commercial point of view,” enthuses one interviewee. He usually advises domestic and multinational oil and gas and infrastructure, clients. He has advised on a number of complex and prestigious projects in diverse sectors such as financial services, IT, industrial, oil and gas, power, automotive, infrastructure, manufacturing, retail, hospitality and aviation, corporate sector, private equity, structuring and tax advisory, foreign investment and regulation, bankruptcy. His efficiency has been acknowledged widely and recommended as a leading lawyer for business by various international legal publications.
L Viswanathan of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas is revered by sources as “the best projects lawyer in India.” He brings “extraordinary knowledge and his understanding of all aspects of projects is unmatched.” Viswanathan regularly advises on complex project financing mandates and has extensive experience with infrastructure and oil and gas transactions.
Rupin Pawha of Juris Legal & Financial Services is considered by one source to be “very meticulous in what he does,” with another noting: “He expresses independent views and can be completely trusted.” Pawha is regularly instructed by both public and private sector clients for his infrastructure and energy expertise. He heads the Corporate and Projects teams at Juris Legal and has been appointed by the Indian Ministry of Coal and the Central Mine Planning and Development Institute to assist in developing the methodology and documentation for the award of coal blocks and regulate the coal allocation. Other key clients have included Delhi and Mumbai Airports, SUN Group, First Pacific and the Gujarat Maritime Board.
Mohit Saraf of Luthra & Luthra Law Offices is “very practical” and has impressive experience across all aspects of project execution. He is a key member of a task force examining India’s nuclear energy policies.He regularly represents both national and international clients in relation to their investment in Projects and Infrastructure sector including clients like GMR, GVK Group and Khazanah Nasional Berhad. Recognised as Leading Lawyer by IFLR1000 2015.
Sunil Seth of Seth Dua & Associates regularly handles both the development and financing of infrastructure and energy projects.He has advised clients across diverse sectors such as Aviation; Aerospace & Defence, Banking and Finance, Real State Sector, Corporate and Commercial (M&A); Cross-border Investments; Competition Law; Dispute Resolution, Conventional and Non- Conventional Power Projects including, Coal, Gas, Hydro, Nuclear, Wind Power, Solar Power and Biomass Power Projects. He was appointed as an advisor to the Ministry of Housing, Government of India to ensure orderly growth and development of Real Estate sector across India.
Amitabh Sharma of HSA Advocates joined the firm as managing partner in May 2016, having previously practised at Khaitan & Co. He practices on matters within the energy and infrastructure sector and has almost two decades of experience. He is responsible for driving the firm’s overall strategy, growth and client outreach. He has international clients. He has over two decades of experience in a wide variety of corporate and financing matters. He specialises in the infrastructure, energy and natural resources sectors.
Upendra Joshi of Khaitan & Co. has significant experience advising on project investments and financing. He possesses considerable knowledge across power, oil and gas and transport, together with notable cross-border experience. He is acknowledged as a leading legal practitioner both by clients and peers. He had a number of high stakes in complex assignments. In his role as partner at Khaitan & Co, Upendra has led a number of high-stakes and complex assignments. He is testified as a trusted advisor with the ability to offer practical advice with a solutions-driven approach. He has also led efforts to initiate new practice areas for the firm.