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This article is written by Shweta Rath, Team LawSikho.

Isn’t it a dream for every law student to work with names such as Mr. Amit Sibal and Mr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi??

But as a law student passionate about competition law, it was difficult to identify senior advocates who argued competition matters in my initial years. Due to the nascency of the practice and the small circle, it was not possible to identify and secure internships to gain experience in this field of law under senior lawyers.

In fact, back in 2013-14, hardly 4-5 senior advocates actually argued relevant competition law matters. One reason could be the technicality of the subject due to which there was a lack of popularity. 

However, 5 years later, the atmosphere has completely changed. The top-most senior advocates of the country today are arguing high stake competition matters before the CCI, NCLAT, High Courts and the Supreme Court of India. The recent Cement cartel case in the NCLAT witnessed a host of senior advocates representing 11 cement companies arguing against the order of the CCI. 

The crowd is only getting bigger today and senior lawyers are not only known to charge hefty amounts to argue competition matters but also pay their competition junior lawyers quite well. Most of these senior advocates hiring competition lawyers pay them nothing less than INR 50-60K a month.

Moreover, working under senior lawyers also proves to be an added benefit as junior lawyers get excellent recommendation letters that help them secure scholarships for pursuing masters in reputed institutes like King’s College London, UCL, Brussels School of competition, Leeds, Warwick, etc.

However, the most essential requirement with these practitioners is prior knowledge of competition law and preferably some work experience. Since they deal with extremely complicated competition cases, the level of expertise and knowledge expected from juniors is certainly high. The best part about working with senior advocates is that you get to engage with the competition teams of the top most law firms in the country and create your connections in order to make a future transition to law firms. 

With the number of growing senior practitioners, we at LawSikho have compiled a list of 10 such prominent senior advocates who have to argue extensive cases under competition law. Almost all of them are based out of New Delhi as all the relevant competition authorities are present in New Delhi. Please note that this list is not based on any hierarchy in terms of quality of practice. If any of the below-mentioned information is incorrect, please reach out to us on [email protected]. 

So let us get to the list:

1. Mr. Amit Sibal

 When we think of prominent competition law seniors, this is one of the first names to top the chart. Amit Sibal is a favorite when it comes to appearing for high paying clients in the country.

In 2015, in one of his earliest cases, he defended Maruti and helped it secure a stay against the INR 417 crore fine levied by the CCI before the High Court of New Delhi. He has represented Jai Prakash associates in the famous cement cartel case. Currently, he represents many technology companies like Flipkart (for the anti-competitiveness of the Walmart- Flipkart acquisition) and Uber (Exclusivity and predatory pricing claims by Meru and Fasttrack) in their on-going litigations before the NCLAT. 

Mr. Sibal has also represented government authorities like the Board of Control of Cricket in India (BCCI) in allegations pertaining to abuse of dominant position. Considering the fact that he represents the top clients of the industry, Mr. Sibal pays his juniors in the range of INR 75,000- INR 90,000 per month.

2. Mr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi 

Mr. Singhvi is another shark in the ocean who takes up the most complicated high-profile competition matters.

He was one of the leading arguing counsels in the Google matter before the CCI and represented Google after being briefed by AZB and Economic Laws Practice. Mr. Singhvi is one of the leading counsels in the pending appeal of the cement cartel case before the Supreme Court. 

He has also appeared in matters pertaining to constitutional challenges to the CCI with the recent one being CCI v. JCB in the Delhi High Court. Sources state that he pays his competition law juniors in the bracket of INR 70k to INR 1L per month. 

3. Mr. Somasekhar Sundaresan

Mr. Sundaresan was considered the star partner of J. Sagar Associates before he left to start his independent practice. He is immensely experienced in investment, banking, merger transactions and is steadily becoming a known face in the competition fraternity. 

Not only has he started representing crucial matters but he also writes important articles with respect to competition law for various newspapers. He is currently representing Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Limited in its appellate proceedings in the NCLAT against the order of the CCI. On the CCI level, he has represented NSK Ltd, Japan in their leniency petitions thereby broadening his range. On the merger side, he was heavily involved in Schneider Electric’s recent acquisition of Larsen & Toubro’s electrical and automation business which was the longest ever Phase II investigation done by the CCI. 

Mr. Sundaresan works mostly out of Mumbai but he also travels to New Delhi for briefings and matters. Sources state that Mr. Sundaresan pays his juniors a minimum of INR 50-60K per month- the figures go on increasing with the relevant qualifications and experience. 

4. Mr. CA Sundaram

Aryama Sundaram is one of the legends of the litigation circle and is remembered for his involvement in the privacy judgment before the Supreme Court. Similarly, in the competition circle as well, he happens to be one of the biggies with his involvement in cement cartel litigation and DLF in defending these companies. 

The order of the CCI against DLF is pending before the Supreme Court as of now and Mr. Sundaram will be spearheading it. He also pays his juniors quite well with a starting range of INR 90K to INR 1L per month. 

5. Mr. Ramji Srinivasan

Mr. Srinivasan is one of the most prolific competition law seniors who has been arguing competition matters since the very inception of the legislation. His rich experience in other regulatory laws like Telecom and Electricity has enriched his competition experience even more. 

He was involved in the Jet-Etihad merger case before the CCI in 2012, which was the first major FDI investment in the aviation sector. He represented F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG Konzern-Hauptsitz in the famous case of Biocon Limited and Ors. vs. F. Hoffmann-La Roche AG Konzern-Hauptsitz and Ors. where Mr. Amit Sibal was his opposing counsel. 

He has also represented government bodies like Coal India and BCCI in cases of abuse of dominance cases. Mr. Srinivasan follows a differential salary system that depends upon qualifications and experience with competition law. The starting salary bracket ranges between INR 35k- INR 55K. 

6. Mr. Salman Khurshid

Salman Khurshid is a well-known name in litigation. Not only is he a politician but also an eminent author and law teacher. Mr. Khurshid is one of the prominent lawyers who is regularly engaged by the CCI. He single-handedly, appearing for the CCI, led the arguments before the NCLAT in the cement cartel appeal against all the 11 cement companies. 

He also defended the CCI in the matter of Hyundai v. CCI & Ors – Resale Price Maintenance case and in the matter of Toyota Kirloskar Private Limited v. CCI– Shamsher Kataria case (COMPAT). On the Supreme Court level, he defended CCI on two of the most prominent gun-jumping matters- SCM Soilfert Limited v CCI and Thomas Cook v CCI. Being a famous litigator, he also pays his juniors very well with a starting salary of not less than 75K per month for competition lawyers. 

7. Mr. Balbir Singh

Mr. Balbir Singh is another prominent lawyer who was regularly engaged by the CCI to argue matters in appellate forums until 2014. His matters included the NSE case before the COMPAT, the DLF penalty, the Jet Etihad deal, and the cement makers investigation. 

He has an academic background in accounting which makes him very proficient in commercial laws. Competition law, hence, is a significant forte. He has been involved with DSK Legal and now he takes up competition matters on a regular basis arguing parties opposite to the CCI. Starting salary for working under Mr. Balbir Singh is in the range of INR 35K-45K and goes on increasing as per experience. 

8. Mr. Rajshekhar Rao

Mr. Rao is yet to become a senior advocate. However, his name has to be involved in this list as he is one of the strongest players in the league of senior lawyers who regularly argue important competition matters. 

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Mr. Rao is regularly engaged by all the top tier law firms but at the same time, he is also engaged by mid-tier law firms and practitioners. He has argued one of the most important competition matters with some of them being the Google order before the CCI and now in NCLAT (on behalf of Matrimoney.com), Uber and Ola CCI orders (On behalf of Ola) which are now pending before the NCLAT, Panasonic dry cell battery leniency cases, Saurabh Tripathy v. CCI & Ors in Delhi High Court (on behalf of Great Eastern Energy Corporation Ltd) to name a few. Mr. Rajshekhar Rao is now one of the most sought-after lawyers to argue high stake competition litigation matters. 

9. Mr. Arun Kathpalia

Mr. Arun Kathpalia is another known face in the competition litigation fraternity who is primarily known for two extremely important technology sector-oriented cases. 

The first one being the Google case where he argued alongside Mr. Abhishek Manu Singhvi and secondly, in the celebrated standard-essential patent case- TELEFONAKTIEBOLAGET LM ERICSSON v. CCI AND ORS where he represented Intex against Ericsson in the Delhi High Court. 

He also deals with matters pertaining to IBC and Competition Law with the recent one being MSTC Limited and Ors. vs. Adhunik Metalliks Ltd. and Ors, where he represented the respondent, which has a corporate insolvency resolution process’ initiated against it. Sources state that he pays his juniors quite well with a starting salary of INR 50K and above.

10. Mr. A N Haksar

Mr. Haksar has had a varied practice in law with special emphasis on areas such as indirect taxation, competition, consumer protection law & company law and has been present for some of the earlier competition law litigations since 2013-14.

His famous cases include all the prominent cartel cases like the cement cartel case, All India Tyre Dealers’ Federation vs. Tyre Manufacturers (Tyre Case), Shamsher Kataria Case, Cartelisation by steel producers to name a few. He had very recently represented Cinepolis Ltd in the CCI while arguing alongside Amit Sibal, Rajshekhar Rao and Ramji Srinivasan in the case of Unilazer Ventures Private Limited v. PVR Ltd and Ors which was closed. He pays his juniors a starting salary of anything between INR 25K-35K.

These practitioners are considered to be the big sharks of competition law. Be it enforcement/litigation matters or merger control matters, competition lawyers mostly choose to brief these lawyers as per client requirements and cost factors. They are one of the most highly paid senior lawyers in the country which is why they represent the top-most corporates. 

Apart from the above-mentioned lawyers, a new generation of competition lawyers who are currently setting up an independent practice, have also started arguing high stake matters before the CCI, NCLAT, High Courts and the Supreme Court of India. Therefore, the coming years will see the number of arguing competition law counsels certainly shooting up.  

If you follow our emails regularly, you shall be knowing that we have launched Certificate Course In Competition Law, Practice And Enforcement. This is an executive certificate course with 1 online live class per week, printed study materials at your disposal, doubt clearance within 24 hours and a lot of other benefits that you can find on the course page with details.

The course has been priced at INR 15,000, if you enroll until 30th January 2020. The price of the course will increase to INR 20,000 starting 1st February 2020.

Shoot us with your doubts by hitting reply to this mail! Our experts will get back to you with a free consultation for your legal career.

Need more reasons to enroll? Here is a list of weekly exercises you can benefit from in this Executive Certificate course:

  • Drafting an “Information”;
  • Drafting a legal opinion with respect to exclusive vertical agreements;
  • Drafting a legal opinion with respect to vertical agreements entered into by technology companies; 
  • Drafting pleadings before the NCLAT on behalf of the Appellant; 
  • Drafting an advisory note with respect to resale price maintenance; 
  • Drafting an advisory note with respect to the investigation orders passed by the CCI under Section 26(1); 
  • Preparing arguments for defending a case of Bid-Rigging;
  • Drafting a legal opinion with respect to a hub and spoke cartel; 
  • Drafting a legal opinion advising clients on provisions relating to an abuse of dominant position under the Act;
  • Conducting the exercise of delineation of a relevant market;
  • Learning the application of Target Based Exemptions; 
  • Learning the application of Parties Test;
  • Preparing a legal opinion on minority investments; 
  • Identifying relevant markets for merger transactions;  
  • Preparing a writing assignment on Group Boycotts;
  • Preparing a writing assignment on Essential Facility Doctrine; 
  • Prepare a writing assignment on the assessment of the appreciable adverse effect on competition for merger transactions.

Do not forget to check the Competition law course details on the page here.

Here are the other courses open for enrollment:

DIPLOMA

Diploma in M&A, Institutional Finance and Investment Laws (PE and VC transactions)

Diploma in Intellectual Property, Media and Entertainment Laws

EXECUTIVE CERTIFICATE COURSES

Certificate Course in Advanced Criminal Litigation & Trial Advocacy

Certificate Course in Real Estate Laws

Certificate Course in Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code

Certificate Course in Media and Entertainment Law: Contracts, Licensing and Regulations

Certificate Course in Legal Practice Development and Management


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