4 WEEKS Legal Era leads the way & captures the Next Big Business & Law Industry Trends at the GENNEXT 2021
LEGAL ERA LEADS THE WAY CAPTURES THE NEXT BIG LEGAL AND INDUSTRY TRENDS AT THE 4-WEEK LONG 10TH ANNUAL GENNEXT BUSINESS & LAW CONGRESS 2021
What happens when the most elite business lawyers, global thought leaders, and best minds of the Indian legal industry, from across the world, come together to capture the NEXT LEGAL TRENDS?
Well, Legal Era has done it again – marking Legal Media Group's 10th annual flagship event, GENNEXT Business and Law Congress 2021, which is renowned for transforming the narratives in the business & legal industry. Only this time, the Congress was virtual and live for 4 weeks (2 days each week, 8 days overall) from 19th August 11th September 2021.
Backed by sponsors and partners such as Nim Wash, Aashirvaad, P&A Law Offices, Anand & Anand, DSK Legal, Khaitan & Co, TMT Law Practice, Lex Orbis, SNG & Partners, RNS Associates, S&R Associates, Society of Indian Law Firms (SILF), and Bombay Chamber of Commerce and Industry, the 4-week Congress was yet another milestone in suggesting a credible way forward for the Legal Industry in India and outside.
With 300+ global speakers, 12+ Key Eminent Keynote Speakers, sharing their views, learnings, and experiences every day, the invite-only closed-door Congress kept the attendees engaged across domains and geographies.
In today's increasingly tech-savvy, culturally-evolving, and inter-dependent marketplace, #GENNEXT2021 was more relevant than ever. And this time, it came with more impact. Nothing could have been more interesting than to leverage the changing tides of time as the power of the high-level discussions between global thought leaders were especially focused on the next big legal trends in a new and challenging post-Covid world.
The theme of the Congress was 'Progressive Legal Inventions For Business Continuity, Jurisprudence, Futuristic Laws For New Tech World: Challenges Pre, During & Post Pandemic'. The excellent and pertinent range of subjects of discussion included how to keep a business moving in a post-pandemic world, the rise of virtual courts, understanding the cost-effective method of resolving disputes, and navigating through regulatory challenges virtually.
Each day started with a keynote address from an industry figure followed by live breakout discussions for an hour in diverse formats, be it masterclasses, open discussion forums, solution rooms, closed-door boardrooms, exhibition hall, and solution-rooms.
19 August 2021 was the Inaugural day of the Congress and sure enough, it had proven to be successful just like all other events organized by the Legal Era. Even as the crisply conducted sessions progressed, the attendees made full use of the gold standard opportunity to know, explore, and got introduced as they interact with judges, partners, GCs, external and in-house lawyers, and many more of the who's who in the legal industry.
The Congress began with an invigorating welcome address by Dr. Lalit Bhasin, President of the Society of Indian Law Firms. He made a pertinent plea that the deployment of technology and innovation must not be confined to just the Supreme Court or the High Courts. The government, the judiciary, and the legal profession had to step in. Dr. Bhasin also requested lawyers with expertise in the tech practice area to focus on how we could reduce the malaise of large delays. "Whatever innovations are made, and whatever tech improvements are desired, we must focus on finding solutions to deal with the fundamental issue of large delays in justice delivery. Such large delays are even affecting the country's reputation that has been a believer in the rule of law."
Dr. Bhasin concluded his welcome address by paying a rich tribute to Aakriti Raizada, Founder and Managing Editor of the Legal Era - Legal Media Group and the Legal Era team for organizing an event that ran for 4 weeks, 2 days each week, stirring discussions on brilliant new age topics being led by excellent moderators and panelists. Dr. Lalit Bhasin particularly noted that the subjects chosen will have a far-reaching impact on business and law. The event was sure to be a great success.
This was followed by a crisp keynote speech delivered by Honourable Justice Dipak Mishra, Former Chief Justice of India. He opined, "Law, especially in a modern democratic Republic, fundamentally responds to the citizenry interest, the need of the time and also has an eye on the future. Our legislative system inherently permits progressive legislation having regard to the economic growth and progress and advancement in scientific technology. All these aspects are reflective in the present adjudicatory process but the same, when formalized into law, not only get assurance but also authenticity."
Justice Mishra made another pertinent observation, "From the days of Adam Smith to Amartya Sen and recently, Abhijit Banerjee, it has been the consistent view that the progress of economy of any nation is dependent on an existing encouraging atmosphere facilitating the transactional process and respecting consumer necessity."
As for the second keynote speaker for the day, it was delivered eloquently by Mr. Dev Bajpai, Executive Director, Legal & Corporate Affairs & Company Secretary, Hindustan Unilever Limited. He highlighted that technology was going to be an important enabler in not just shaping businesses, but, more importantly, in shaping societies. "With education, judiciary, and healthcare already moving into the virtual space, technology, will play an all-important role in serving the consumers more efficiently with quality products & services. Lawyers have a role of a facilitator in this new virtual ecosystem. The Digital Transformation Program at HUL is fully supported by the Legal function and the function is a part of the Digital Council led by the Chairman & CEO.
Elaborating further on what that meant for the Legal function, he opined, "Digital transformation being at the forefront of all businesses, understanding the technology interface with business would be a given for in house lawyers. The expected proliferation of regulations trying to catch up with technological growth will add further complexity. Regulations in the area of artificial intelligence, data ethics, blockchain, privacy would require us to embrace learning as the biggest priority, as organizations, and all the more, as individuals. We will need to continuously upskill to keep pace with the change in our business and external environment, due to technology. I believe as lawyers, moving forward, we will need to have a more holistic understanding of business and the external environment than ever before. I would ask our young lawyers to keep this in mind "Digital transformation may not cost our job, but not upskilling, will definitely.
At HUL, the legal function had carried out a Legal Tech Maturity Assessment before the Pandemic to understand where we stand and what are our lawyers telling us to transition to. Based on this, we carried out a full Legal Function Process Assessment and identified 12 areas including Litigation Management, Compliance Management, Claims Management, Business Integrity, Secretarial & Governance, Brand Protection and so on for a full review in terms of systems and processes and how could we digitize them. We identified either in-house tools or tools available off the shelf, customized and deployed them. This has resulted in considerable efficiencies for the function. This is a journey and we have already embarked on it, course-correcting as required. To sharpen the skills of our lawyers, we have started regular training sessions with our IT & Digital team."
Next came the most-awaited, first-panel session of the day and event. The focus was on 'Ethics next legal trends.'
Moderated by Atul Juvle, GC, Compliance Officer & CS - India & South Asia Schindler India Pvt. Ltd., the panelists were Manjaree Chowdhary Executive Director & General Counsel, Maruti Suzuki India, Deepika Chaudhry Executive Director Legal-APAC, Xerox India Ltd., Amar Kumar Sundram Former India Head of Legal Royal Bank of Scotland, and Sonal Basu General Counsel, Mindtree. They shared thoughts and learnings on hot topics of today such as 'Ethics Post Pandemic', 'Status of Ethics During Lockdown' and 'The Face of Ethics In $ 5 Trillion Economy.'
Right after this extremely mature and rich discussion that left attendees with umpteen food for thought, the first day of the event was wrapped up with another meaty panel discussion on 'Divergent consumer policy'.
Adeptly moderated by V. Chakradhar, Head, Corporate Legal, Godrej Industries Limited, the panelists included Amit Bhasin, Executive Vice President & Head Legal, Marico Limited, Panduranga Acharya, General Counsel, GirnarSoft, T.S. Venkateswaran, Deputy General Counsel, Nestle India Limited, Yogesh Wadhwa, General Counsel Hyundai Motor India Ltd.
The panelists captured their views on interesting angles such as 'Divergent Consumer Policy & Where We Stand Interface Between Consumer & Business – How to Sell & What to Sell' and 'Resurgence Of Business In A Post-Pandemic World 'How to Sell & What to Sell'.
DAY 2 20th August 2021
Shukla Wassan, Independent Director, India Glycols Ltd opened day 2 of the Congress with her powerful thoughts.
Shukla Wassan, laid the roadmap for the rest of the day and handed the baton to Mr. Anand Desai, Managing Partner, DSK Legal delivered his keynote address highlighting the importance of constructive interplay between the government, business, regulators, and courts. He opined, "It is important for members of the legal profession, with other stakeholders, to address the need to reduce litigation. This can be aided by clear and simple policies, statutes, and regulations. The role and responsibility of regulators, and the concept of a lead regulator (as against multiple agencies stepping in against an "accused") for each set of "offenses" must be seriously considered and implemented. The constructive interplay between the government, business, regulators, and courts is essential for improving our economy. This includes the government abiding by arbitral awards and court orders, instead of challenging every award or order passed against them.
Mr. Deepak Acharya, General Counsel, Wipro articulated the second keynote address of the day. Amid the vast reach of the theme of the Congress, he brought out an innovative thought – Corporate Digital Responsibility.
"Corporate Digital Responsibility is gaining considerable relevance today due to huge amounts of data we generate every second. Today, more and more consumers are going online and trusting their Data with the Organizations and if these Organizations are not able to manage their data, they are at risk of violating not only the privacy of their users and consumers but also losing their trust. The onset of the 4th Industrial Revolution calls for a stronger Corporate Digital Responsibility. This is an agenda that will and should dominate organizations, civil societies, policymakers, and the governments in the times to come."
Mr. Deepak Acharya led the way for the attendees to absorb the subject: ESG – Where does India Stand. Rajesh Narain Gupta Managing Partner, SNG & Partners moderated the discussion with panellists Sunil Mehta, Non-Ex-Chairman YES Bank Ltd, & Chairman & MD SPM Capital Advisers Pvt Ltd, Manjaree Chowdhary Executive Director & General Counsel, Maruti Suzuki India, Amber Gupta Head Corporate Legal, CS & Compliance Officer, Aditya Birla Capital Ltd, Sanjit Kaur Batra Regional Legal Director Greater Asia, International Flavours & Fragrances, Sankar Chakraborti Group CEO & Whole-time Director, Acuité Ratings & Research.
The panellists captured their views on what was the ESG framework within a company, good governance in times of uncertainty: how can the legal industry achieve growth with accountability, innovation, and fulfilling societal obligations, and what steps companies were taking towards ESG-driven governance-driven growth.
Manjaree Chowdhary set the context and benefits. "ESG is a new set of parameters that corporates have to begin to measure themselves against. If you are strong on your ESG parameters, it improves your brand value and reputation. Companies are being rated on that. You improve your relationship with your investors and stakeholders. Companies are hence creating a policy framework and sustainability governing structure so that ESG parameters are identified, measured, and integrated into their risk management systems. These then need to be monitored and reported so that stakeholders know what emphasis the companies are putting on the ESG parameters."
She also brought out that ESG governance in times of uncertainty, specially brought out by the pandemic, has become even more critical than ever today. "Boards need to play a very important role on ESG parameters, robust processes, succession planning, labour relationships, and supply chain management. Crisis management, Disaster management, and Business Continuity plans are equally important parts of being in a state of readiness. And India has always been very good at bringing together a competent regulatory framework."
Sunil Mehta spoke about the role that bankers aka lenders can play and how they have become much more conscious of the ESG aspect of businesses aka borrowers. "The lenders are in the business of evaluating what risk is there in lending to a corporate. And all aspects of ESG play a critical role in making that decision. They are looking at corporates that are ESG driven and are contributing to conserving the environment and are giving back to their stakeholders. That is becoming a key differentiator.
Even institutional investors are becoming more discerning. Capital flows are moving to long-term green projects. The velocity of green financing is set to grow. The S&P 500 ESG Index shows that companies that have been ESG compliant have enjoyed much greater economic returns. So it is not just about being ethically good. Even from the business point of view, the questioning has begun. Borrowers need to show good governance. And this need will only go up in the future. We need to move with alacrity.
Mr. Mehta also brought about a simple fact, "In many ways, some of the lessons we are learning today including during Covid, its not so much about – as long as 'I' am benefiting, its fine. But that's not true. I cannot hide or go somewhere safe. The entire ecosystem has to be fine and healthy. Hence ESG has to be seen from that lens. This is the time for this generation to decide honestly what legacy are we leaving behind for the next generation."
Sanjit Kaur Batra brought out the impact of ESG on the chemical industry and few recent global megatrends. "You would see a lot of chemical companies are aligning with and making a conscious choice on which STGs that particular corporate will work on. Even MDG targets are becoming more and more clear measurables. Certifications have been an even more important part. There is also a lot of focus on circular economy and reducing the environmental footprint. The Channel partners are being reviewed to ensure we are in the era of sustainable innovation, responsible manufacturing, and responsible consumption. In India, some work needs to be done by legislators on newer technologies especially on coming up with clear regulations for unambiguous enforcement."
Amber Gupta talked of the recent guidance notes etc by SEBI on ESG. "ESG is not new. It was there since 2011. But disclosure requirements are much higher today. Specific details have to be given on compliance with ESG principles. Quantitative information and not just qualitative. In May 2021, SEBI has revised the format on Business Responsibility and ESG. It's a mandatory submission and disclosure from 2023. The top 100 listed companies are anyway required to submit ESG reports. And now on fundraising, those KPIs that form part of voluntary disclosure will be looked at and such companies will be in a better position."
Sankar Chakraborti wore the regulatory hat and shared the difference between financial rating and ESG rating. "In 207-19, we saw major credit failures that shook the economy. The climax of these failures was when IL&FS and DHL cracked. So, we had to study what was the issue with the credit ratings. We discovered that each credit failure without exception could be attributed to not catering to governance risk and a wrong understanding of governance standards. Also, environment and society is the next big thing that will impact Indian corporates. See the climate change failures happening. When you want to do a forecast of a project's or a company's performance, you can forecast for 2-3 years. And based on that you say that the credit will behave a certain way. But if you go beyond 3 years, the future looks nebulous. And this is where ESG based models come into the picture. And this is where the risk management framework of the company comes in."
After an emphatic discussion, it was time for another panel session on The Unheard Voice: The Independence of Independent Directors raising tough questions such as are independent directors really independent, have they met the expectations of India Inc, and are we doing it right.
Shukla Wassan, Independent Director India Glycols Ltd moderated the discussion with panellists Robin Banerjee Managing Director Caprihans India Limited, Rupa Vora, Independent Director on Corporate Boards, and Rajat Jain, Independent Director, Founder PadUp Ventures Pvt Ltd.
Shukla Wassan set the context by highlighting a couple of takeaways, she said "A boon of the pandemic is that board meetings have seen an almost 100% attendances as member do not have to travel physically to be present at any meeting. Board Members are more engaged in discussions on topics which may not have as prominently been discussed in the past e.g. employee safety, health & well-being, digitalization & supply chain re-alignment, cybersecurity, data privacy and confidentiality.
The regular items such as planning, business plans, financial performances are now being reviewed with a different rigour. Promoter lead organisations are increasingly focussed on inducting independent directors with specific professional experience and background bringing in diversity of skill set & perspective on Board"
Rupa Vora spoke on the role of Independent Directors. "We are today responsible for all stakeholders and also the environment. It gives us the space and mind to create a culture of integrity and values and think about sustainability. So, it's not just about achieving bottom-line revenues. I feel really proud that I'm in a position to make a difference in the long-term interests of the company, the people, and the planet."
She also spoke about her role as a Woman Independent Director. "Yes, my voice is heard. It's nothing to do with being a man or a woman. It's about trust and we are all together to achieve a common objective as board members."
"Also, the pandemic has taught us that we need to work with a great IT infra, IT security systems, and liquidity. Boards and committees had to meet more often to keep the staff together. We have learned to see risks from a different perspective. Making it a practice to think what can go wrong and create what-if scenarios is the new normal."
Rajat Jain spoke about the diverse advantages and opportunities of being an Independent Director. "Overall, my experience has not been limited to contributing to compliance side but also learning a lot as well on new sectors, connecting the dots, network, and sharing past experiences. ID role needs you to be responsible to protect everyone's interest.
Also during the pandemic, I've realized that it's important to build the hybrid model so that off-hand discussions and camaraderie that could be built in physical meetings of the Board does not go missing entirely. The body language communication and meet-and-feel are very important."
On the critical point of how IDs and their role is viewed, Rajat shared his thoughts on the state of independence. "Organisations first want to ensure that compliance and regulatory norms are met. Then they expect the IDs to support these and have oversight on financials. There are few promoter-driven organisations that like to see strategic advice. They like to see everything as Christmas trees only. Regulators view IDs of course as harbingers of corporate governance. But the design of this institution of IDs including the procedure of their appointment is not built to really let this happen."
Robin Banerjee shared that the role of the ID and their independence depends on the ecosystem that the chairperson creates. "If the chairperson is not pro-independence, it does not mean that there is poor governance. I have observed that the IDs are mostly not knowledgeable about their rights and responsibilities. They are not prepared for their meetings. If they want to make a good job in their role, they can. The system is robust enough to allow them to contribute. And also allows them to get away. So, it is up to each ID himself or herself. The choice is yours.
The pandemic gave an opportunity to capitalize on innovation. Also, it is very important that IDs must try to make it a good Board that can work together. It is good to protest on the inside and make it work, rather than resign in case of differences. You will have a mixed bag of promoter-driven organisations. But organisations that need to see long term sustainability, they will see value in good corporate governance brought by IDs."
The discussion ended with moderator Shukla Wassan posing the question – "What is the message you'd like to give to aspiring independent directors?" The responses were most useful and practical.
Robin: Network is very important. IDs are not appointed by application. You get a call. So it is all a matter of network. And you need to remove negativity. Board wants a knowledgeable and positive attitude person.
Rajat: Once you are called to be an ID, you should choose your company carefully. Do your due diligence. There are good boards and not-so-good boards. So choose ones where you get to contribute and also learn as you need to grow. And have the courage. Without that, the independence of the ID is non-existent.
Rupa: Don't shy away from being an ID. Ask the right questions. Have the humility to agree and be ready to change in the interest of all the stakeholders. Don't just stick to your opinion because you are so fervent about it.
Legal Era leads the way & captures the Next Big Business & Law Industry Trends at the 4-Week Long 10th Annual GENNEXT Business & Law Congress 2021
26 August 2021 was Day 1 of Week 2 of the 10TH ANNUAL GENNEXT BUSINESS & LAW CONGRESS 2021. The day began with a power-packed opening address by Jyoti Pawar, SVP & Deputy General Counsel Global, Infosys. The pandemic accelerating the growth of technology, large companies now preferring to outsource rather than building in-house, and newer opportunities for the gig workforce through remote working were some of the points she touched upon in her speech.
This was followed by a crisp keynote address delivered by Ashish Chandra, Associate General Counsel, WhatsApp, in which he said, "The newest form of the most interesting apps will be those lying at the intersection of fintech, gaming, entertainment, and community engagement including commerce." He urged the attendees to learn blockchain, "as future techno-commercial contracts won't be written and signed, they will be coded and hashed".
After Chandra, Dr. Ajai Kumar Garg, Director (HoD International Cooperation; Bilateral Trade, Innovation & IPR), Ministry of Electronics; Information Technology, GoI, delivered the second keynote address of the day.
The first panel of the day titled, "IT & Law Next Legal Trends" was moderated by Anubhav Kapoor, Director of Legal Affairs, Ford India and had panelists including Sanjukta Kulkarni, Vice President and General Counsel, Larsen and Toubro Infotech Ltd.; Shalini Saxena, General Counsel, Pine Labs; and Meenu Chandra, Vice President – Legal, Commercial, Global Compliance, HCL Technologies. The panel discussed topics such as the devil's side of the IT rules and its impact on the business scenario; the increasing threat of cybercrimes: whether the law is geared up for challenge; and challenges for IT service providers.
The second panel of the day was titled "WhatsApp and Twitter – Constitutional Validity Vs Practical Applicability". Moderated by Bharat Mehta EVP, Regional GC & Ethics & Compliance Officer - India & APAC Capgemini; the participants included Dr. Pavan Duggal, Advocate, Supreme Court of India; Nirupam Srivastava, VP Strategy, M&A, Digital Transformation, Hero Corporate Service; Abhishek Malhotra Managing Partner TMT Law Practice; and Vaishali Bhagwat Advocate, High Court. Bharat Mehta said, "IT (information technology) and Information broadcasting laws are seeing maturity and convergence, which is also need of the hour, given the impact social media can have on society and national security, due to influence of Artificial intelligence and big data."
The third and last panel of Day 1 of Week 2 was titled "International Data Transfer in the Light of Schrems II". It was moderated by Kavitha Gupta, Senior Corporate Counsel Juniper Networks and saw participation from
Aannaaand Deshpande, Director- Data Privacy & Protection, MasterCard; Rajesh Kumar, Group Manager, Privacy & Data Protection Office, Infosys; Ritesh Bhatia, Founder, Cybercrime & Forensics Investigator, Cybersecurity & Data Privacy Consultant, V4Web Cyber Security; and Jaipat S. Jain, Partner Lazare Potter Giacovas & Moyle LLP. Rajesh Kumar said, "The need of the hour is to promote a pragmatic approach to stemming national security concerns by unlocking the benefits of cross-border data transfers, and balancing the privacy of individuals." Ritesh Bhatia said, "Given the increased frequency of data breaches, it's important that organisations follow the principle of data minimisation and implement techniques such as psudenymisation and anonymisation of data."
27 August, 2021 was Day 2 of Week 2 of the 10TH ANNUAL GENNEXT BUSINESS & LAW CONGRESS 2021. The opening address was delivered by Shashank Gautam Partner, P & A Law Offices, while the two keynote speakers of the day were Darius Khambata, Senior Advocate, Bombay High Court followed by Justice A. K. Sikri, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India.
The first panel of the day was titled, "Competition Law Next Legal Trends". Moderated by Shashank Gautam, Partner, P & A Law Offices; the participants were Kanaiya Thakker, Jt. President & Head - Legal Ambuja Cements Ltd; Ranabir Basu, Regional General Counsel & Legal Director Dr. Reddy's Laboratories; Zameer Nathani, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, UFO Moviez India Limited (Public Listed) not Raymond Limited; and Saraswan Mukherjee, General Manager (Legal) ITC Infotech Ltd., UK. The panel discussed topics like Rapid Digitization and Competition Law Enforcement: Are competition regulations sufficient and comprehensive enough? Saraswan Mukherjee spoke about, "Controlling the arena in which the game is played and playing the game," and said that this pertains to the role of big tech giants in the digital world which antitrust regulation is trying to address.
The second and last panel of the day titled, "The New Indian Labour Codes - A Case of Old Wine in New Bottle?" was moderated by Vikram Shroff, Head, HR Laws (Employment & Labor), Nishith Desai Associates. The panelists included: Amit Shinde General Manager Legal, Mind tree; Abhinav Sinha Director- Compensation and Benefits, India Region Abbott Healthcare Pvt Ltd – India; Mansha Shukla Senior Counsel (Head- Legal), South Asia Airbnb; Manoj Rajendran, Sr. Corporate Counsel (Labour & Employment) Amazon; and Priya Ananthan, Managing Council, BNY Mellon. The panel discussed topics such as impact on hiring and firing, new definition of "wages" and its financial impact, and new concepts under new labour codes. Vikram Shroff summarized the panel as "The new labour codes of India are already on the horizon. It no longer seems a question of 'if' but 'when'. First impressions of the new labour codes were a case of old wine in a new bottle. Reading the fine print, there are several changes and new concepts that have been introduced by the labour codes. Employers have been putting in considerable efforts to understand the impact of the new labour codes, so as to be ready and prepared as soon as they are made effective." Manoj Rajendran said, "India's economic progress is tied to progressive labour reforms. Employers and employees will have to work hand in hand to ensure the growth of the nation." Priya Ananthan said, "The Legal fraternity is eagerly waiting for the Labour Codes to infuse a breath of fresh air by balancing benefits for workers and with India ranking high on the Ease of Doing Business."
3 September was Day 1 of Week 3 of the 10TH ANNUAL GENNEXT BUSINESS & LAW CONGRESS 2021. Debolina Partap Senior Vice President Legal & Group General Counsel, Wockhardt Group, set the mood for the day with her insightful opening address which was followed by crisp keynote addresses by Navneet Hrishikesan, Executive Director, Legal (Asia Pacific & Japan, Service Provider) Cisco; and Pravin Anand, Managing Partner, Anand and Anand.
Panel 1 of Day 1 of Week 3 was titled, "White Collar Crime Next Legal Trends". Moderated by Manavendra Mishra, Partner, Khaitan & Co; the session saw participation from Robert Wyld, Consultant, Johnson Winter & Slattery; Pooja Bedi, General Counsel, Philips-India subcontinent; Neha Mahayavanshi, Director Field Compliance Officer- India SAP; and Dr. Vivek Mittal, Global General Counsel, Dr. Reddy's Laboratories. The panel discussed topics such as mitigating the risk of private bribery in implementing compliance programs and settling international bribery cases: The Paradigm shift and more.
The second panel of the day was titled, "Healthcare & Pharma Next Legal Trends" and discussed topics such as the focus shift from pharma to the healthcare industry and health regulations: Impact of the pandemic on the healthcare sector. The session was moderated by Abhishek Malhotra, Managing Partner, TMT Law Practice; and saw participation from Atulya Sharma, Director Legal, Max Healthcare; Meera Vanjari, Director Legal Abbott Healthcare Pvt Ltd; Abraham Koshy, Senior Manager Legal (Global-Legal, Compliance & Risk) - Strides Pharma Science Ltd; and Prof. Ganapathy Krishnan Director, Apollo Telemedicine Networking Foundation.
The third and last panel of the day was titled, "Real Estate & Infrastructure Sector – Challenges and Opportunities in Current Pandemic". Moderated by Dinesh Pardasani, Partner, DSK Legal; the participants included Srivals Kumar, External GC, Independent Corporate Legal Consultant Retainer; Rajeevan Nair, Head Of Legal Department, L&T Realty; Gopal Menghani, Advisor & Legal Consultant; Parveen Mahtani, Chief Legal Officer, Mahindra Lifespace Developers Ltd. Parveen Mahtani said, "While several legislative changes have been introduced for India's real estate industry, streamlining RERA across States and simplifying the data shall boost consumer confidence in the sector. We should also work towards a unified construction law, which could be based on a consolidation of the various statutes as also borrow from some of the best practices of other countries."
4 September was Day 2 of Week 3 of the 10TH ANNUAL GENNEXT BUSINESS & LAW CONGRESS 2021. Two crisp keynote addresses by Zia Mody, Founder and Managing Partner, AZB & Partners and Ravindra Kadam, Senior Advocate, Bombay High Court set the tone for the day.
Panel 1 of Day 2 of Week 3 was titled, "Asset Management & Investment Next Legal Trends" and discussed topics such as structuring investment in distressed assets: The Post-pandemic challenge; and Pre pack amendment during the pandemic. Moderating the panel was Aashit Shah, Partner, J Sagar Associates and the panelists included: R S Sachdeva, President (Group Legal), JK Organisation; R. K. Bansal, M D and CEO Edelweiss ARC; and Veena Sivaramakrishnan, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas. The session was very interactive and discussed issues in view of the recent decision in the case of Videocon where NCLT approved the resolution plan of Twin Star Technologies. In the NCLT order, it was observed that the Resolution Applicant was "paying almost nothing" as the amount offered was only 4.15% of the total outstanding claim with haircut for all the creditors being 95.85%. It was suggested to both the committee of creditors and the successful applicant to increase the payout. Currently, the matter is before NCLAT and the decision will set the limits and how much haircut will be allowed. The Supreme Court has clarified in the Essar case the primacy of 'the commercial wisdom of the CoC' in deciding the fate of the CD undergoing corporate insolvency resolution process (CIRP).
The Supreme Court in the CoC of Essar Steel India Vs Satish Kumar Gupta observed that the CoC has to take a business decision based on ground realities.
The second panel of the second day of Week 3 was titled, "Business Succession Planning: New Normal". Moderated by Amit Aggarwal, Partner & Head of Corporate Practice, SNG & Partners; the panelists included: Uday Ved, Partner & Global Head Practice, KNAV; Gautami Gavankar, CEO-Estate Planning & Trusteeship, Kotak Mahindra Trusteeship Services Limited; Rajendra Kalur, Independent Consultant & Financial Educator; and Rajesh Saluja, MD & CEO, ASK Wealth. The session discussed how important it is to structure business succession and planning. Amit Aggarwal said, "Business succession planning is a critical ingredient for continuity of business. More often than not, this aspect is either ignored or deliberately not addressed for fear of disruption of harmony or fear of losing control. If business succession planning is done at the right opportune time, it not only adds growth to businesses but also ensures effective management. It also enables business families to streamline their assets and liabilities position as they can then consciously work to segregate their personal wealth from the assets of the business. In case of dire situations if God forbid, the business faces a downturn, proper planning undertaken at the right time enables ring fencing of personal assets and enables the promoters to reinitiate their business activities in a new avatar." Uday Ved said, "Succession planning is an important mechanism to protect and grow wealth and ring fence assets from future unforeseen liabilities. Tax plays an important role in implementing succession planning through efficient modes like private trusts, wills, gifts, LLP, etc. Costs of not doing appropriate planning can be steep in terms of future litigation within family, unnecessary tax costs, etc. Proper succession planning can address these issues and provide peace of mind, create harmony within the family, and protect and grow wealth". Rajendra Kalur said, "Family succession comes with a myriad challenges & more so since in many instances, business & family interests are intertwined. The early on the road to success, the better it is."
The third and last panel of Day 2 of Week 3 was titled, "M&A Next Legal Trends" and discussed topics such as structuring M&A transactions in the pandemic; and infected deals: M&A in times of a global pandemic. The session was moderated by Sudip Mahapatra, Partner, S & R Associates; and saw participation from Neera Sharma, CEO- CLO, Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd; Rupesh Mishra, Executive Director, StarLaw LLP; Kaizad Hazari, General Counsel, ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India; and Sameet Gambhir, Vice President (Corp. Law) & Company Secretary, DCM Shriram LTD. Rupesh Mishra said, ""M&A playbooks need to adapt very quickly to the new circumstances. While considering a transaction, parties need to be mindful of pandemic-related deal risks (e.g., regulatory delays, execution challenges, business interruptions, national security measures, etc.) and should try to mitigate such risks." Sameet Gambhir said, "Some very good proactive actions by the Govt. of India during the pandemic include many exemptions and relaxations. Some of which are so liked by all concerned stakeholders that the Govt. is think of making them permanently."
10 September was Day 1 of the 4th and last week of the 10TH ANNUAL GENNEXT BUSINESS & LAW CONGRESS 2021. In his opening address, Amarjit Singh Chandhiok, President, INSOL India, said, "Progressive legal innovation including futuristic laws, are essential for effective remedial measures. Parliament must make a collaborative participation of experts including the Hon'ble Judges and all other stakeholders, to enact amendments and new laws to have cost-effective and timely solutions to commercial transactions." Sapan Gupta, Group General Counsel, Arcelor Mittal Group, delivered the first keynote address followed by Matthew J. Kemner, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs, who delivered the second keynote address of the day.
Panel 1 of Day 1 of the 4th week was titled "E-Courts and Virtual Hearings" and discussed topics such as the rise of e-courts and videoconferencing hearings: experiences, pitfalls and lessons learnt; virtual hearings or physical hearings or a hybrid mix of the two: What's your go-to model?; and can technology have a positive role in reducing pendency? highlighting the advantages of e-trials. The session was moderated by Ila Kapoor, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas with participants including: Dr. Sanjeev Gemawat, Executive Director & Group CS, Dalmia Bharat Group; Samir Hossain, General Manager Legal, Aditya Birla Finance Limited; Rajiv Chandan, General Counsel & Company Secretary, Tata Chemicals Limited; Sidharth Sethi, Partner, J Sagar Associates; Sujeet Jain, Chief Legal Officer, UltraTech Cement; and Abhai Pandey, Partner, LexOrbis. Dr Gemawat said, "Use of digital technology would restore faith in the justice delivery system in view of the inherent benefits of speed and reduced costs. It would help in streamlining the functioning of the courts resulting in reduced workload on the judicial system and hence enhancing the quality of justice." Rajiv Chandan said, "An excellent deliberation on the topic of e-courts & virtual hearings at the Legal Era GENNEXT 2021 Business & Law Congress. The key takeaway from the session was – the hybrid model is the future and the way to go. Thanks Legal Era for organising this event and allowing us to participate in the session and share my views." Sidharth Sethi said, "Hybrid hearings are the way to go. Though they are still in their beta stage, with experience, I am certain that an effective and workable model will be evolved. Procedural hearings in arbitrations can be conducted virtually without the need for physical presence of parties. The same goes for case management hearings in courts. Other stages (including final arguments) may also be considered to be held virtually depending on the size of the matter. That said, I am a strong proponent of the view that hearings for recording of oral evidence should be conducted physically to ensure adequate and proper opportunity to parties. I say so because: (i) A matter which is fact intensive and there are multiple documents filed by both the sides - is extremely difficult to cross- examine the witnesses and to confront them with documents and/or explain the relevance of a question to the Tribunal by reference to a document; (ii) Tribunal may also find it difficult to judge the demeanor of the witnesses during video conferencing; (iii) If Tribunal members are in different locations, this will impede their ability to consult and deliberate while the cross-examination is in progress; (iv) Cross-examination is a process that depends on the verbal and non-verbal cues revealed by the witness. If there is lack of audio-visual clarity, a virtual-hearing does not always allow to promptly and clearly catch such cues; (v) There are also concerns that witnesses are being instructed or tutored. The Seoul Protocol on Video Conferencing in International Arbitrations addresses some of these issues but shortcomings and concerns when it comes to recording of evidence via video conferencing still remain." Sujeet Jain said, "Justice is a constitutional service which government owes to its citizens and justice delayed as we know is justice denied. Pandemic has offered us extraordinary opportunity to digitize all aspects of our justice delivery ecosystem and set a global benchmark in ensuring timely justice. This will not only accelerate our ease of doing business but will also be an enabler for our hon'ble prime minister's vision of India becoming a $5 trillion economy." Abhai Pandey said, "No doubt e-courts and virtual hearings are a remarkable initiative but like all other new initiatives, this system is also facing teething issues. We are hopeful to have more robust systems across the country in the times to come."
The second panel of Day 1 of Week 4 was titled "Arbitration Next Legal Trends" which discussed topics such as Consequences on Contract Performance in international arbitration: Excusable or not?; The rise of investor-state arbitrations: A pandemic arbitration wave?; and the Antrix-Devas case. Moderated by Gourab Banerji, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India, the session saw participation from: Tejas Karia, Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas; Hemant Kumar, Group General Counsel, Larsen & Toubro Limited; Vikram Nankani, Senior Counsel, Bombay High Court; and Ganesh Chandru, Partner, Dua Associates.
The third panel was titled "Mediation & ODR Challenges - Trends & Way Forward" and was moderated by Amarjit Singh Chandhiok, President, INSOL India. The panelists included: Justice Gita Mittal, Former Chief Justice, High Court of Jammu & Kashmir & Former Acting Chief Justice & Judge, High Court of Delhi; Veena Ralli, Organizing Secretary Samadhan, Delhi High Court Mediation and Conciliation Centre; Ashok Barat, Founder, Merx Business Advisor LLP; Rajneesh Jaswal, General Counsel; and Priyanka Kalra Dar, Partner, Kalra & Krishnan. Justice Gita Mittal said, "ODR lends expedition, efficiency and convenience to the process of mediation, saves costs to parties, and enables absolute confidentiality in communication, making mediation the most effective dispute resolution mechanism at international and national levels. If it could be coupled with a robust legislative framework, the mediation facilities in India would match the best in the world today." Veena Ralli said that mediation is an apt key to the resolution of conflicts. Ashok Barat said, "In situations other than where a point of law needs to be interpreted, mediation is the sanest, sincerest, most cost effective and the speediest way to resolve contractual disputes. Legal Era raising its voice and permitting its platform to evangelize and make people aware of mediation is an enormous encouragement to this movement". Rajneesh Jaswal said, "Online Mediation and arbitration have the ability to provide economic and reputational benefits especially in disputes involving corporations. Technology and mediators must be and can be used to cater to these scenarios."
The fourth and last panel of Day 1 of Week 4 was titled, "Product Liability". Bindu Janardhanan, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs, moderated the panel, which saw participation from Vineet Agarwal, General Counsel, BMW; Yogesh Wadhwa, General Counsel, Hyundai Motor India Ltd.; Dr. Akhil Prasad, Director, Country Counsel India & Company Secretary, Boeing; Matthew J. Kemner, Partner, Squire Patton Boggs; Nived Tayal, Legal Counsel, Nestlé India Limited; Nandita Gera, Director - Legal, Risk Management & Compliance, India Subcontinent, DB Schenker; and Amit Atre, General Counsel & Company Secretary, Mercedes Benz India Pvt Ltd. Bindu Janardhanan said, "Moving forward, awareness in product liability has to be in every stage of the product life cycle. Therefore, any evolution in this sector is progression in the right direction." Nived Tayal said, "Legal Era has provided us with a wonderful platform to discuss current topics in law with the dignitaries of the field. Hope to be a part of such forums going forward as well." Nandita Gera said, "The manufacturing and service providing industry will have to enhance product liability risk management practices in the wake of evolving product liability law in India."
11 September was Day 2 of the 4th and last week of the 10TH ANNUAL GENNEXT BUSINESS & LAW CONGRESS 2021. A. S. Sundaram, General Counsel and Head Legal, ITC, delivered the opening address followed by keynote addresses by Rohan Shah, Counsel, Bombay High Court; and L. Badri Narayanan, Executive Partner, Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan.
The first panel of the second day of the fourth and last week of the Congress was titled, "Legal Technology Trends Changing In-House Legal Departments & Law Firms". Moderated by L. Badri Narayanan, Executive Partner, Lakshmikumaran & Sridharan, the session saw participation from Pooja Sehgal Mehtani, General Counsel, Asia Service Centres & Company Secretary, ASCI, Sun Life India Service Centre Pvt. Ltd; Smitha Chandrashekaraiah, Director Legal, Harman International India Pvt Ltd.; Shujath Bin Ali, General Counsel & CFO, Ramky Enviro Engineers; Hanno Kunkel, EVP & General Counsel, Siemens Ltd.; and Ruchika Nayyar, General Counsel, Nexus Malls. The panel discussed topics such as the evolving role of a GC and tram in the digital transformation era; leveraging technology in legal processes and paperless journey of organizations; hybrid models emerging; and new ways of working in the post pandemic era. Pooja Sehgal Mehtani said, "It's imperative to leverage technology according to business needs and in-house legal departments should constantly evolve and adapt to this transformation specifically brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic." Ruchika Nayyar said, "One of the positive aspects of the Covid-19 pandemic is that it accelerated the need for digitization and use of technology in the legal industry. Another interesting point now being considered by the Kerala HC is a larger question, which is 'whether the right to demand digital services from the government is a fundamental right of the citizens'."
The second panel of the second day was titled, "Digital Media & E-Commerce: The Way Forward" and discussed topics such as regulation of OTT platforms: hits and misses; impact of IT rules on news; e-commerce policy trends and impact of consumer protection rules 2021. The panel was moderated by Tanu Banerjee, Partner, Khaitan & Co and the panelists included Vandana Seth, VP, Tata 1mg; A.N. Neelakantan, Legal Head, Information Technology Procurements And Contracts Department, Reliance Industries Limited; Ashish Chandra, Associate General Counsel, WhatsApp; Zameer Nathani, Sr. VP & General Counsel, UFO Moviez Ltd.; and Prashant Ramdas, Vice President & Head-Legal, Times Group (Mirchi). Prashant Ramdas said, "The world is more digital today than it has ever been and is staged to take over all traditional media of communication. For India to stay competitive in this age and aspire to be a leader which it is poised for due to the vast talent pool available, it needs to focus on striking the right balance between regulation of the digital sector and ease of doing business. Understanding the unique challenges of each medium and addressing them through necessary policies and legal framework is the key I believe. I congratulate Legal Era for having taken up this topic for discussion at this opportune time when the pandemic has literally forced all to bring in digital into our lives like never before!"
The third panel of the second day was titled, "Start Ups: Legal Developments & Challenges" and discussed topics including the evolving legal landscape such as e-commerce laws, consumer protection, information security, data privacy and governance; compliance burdens – ease of doing business; need for speed; building legal expertise; and government incentives. Moderated by Tejal Patil, Senior Legal Advisor, OYO, the session saw participation from Neera Sharma, CEO/CLO Sistema Shyam Teleservices Ltd; Geetika Singh, AVP - Legal, Pine Labs; Anu Tiwari, Partner, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas; and Tushar Mehrishi, Technology Lawyer, Thought Partner and Emerging Leader. Tushar Mehrishi said, "The session was very insightful and engaging. It was very useful to have diverse perspectives on the panel. That is, thoughts both from a law firm and in-house counsel perspective. The panel members picked up on each other's points and had good discussions".
The last session of Day 2 of Week 4 and effectively the last session of the 4-week Congress was titled, "Manufacturing Law Next Legal Trends" and discussed topics such as effective use of economic stimulus, business agreements and the laws to plan for now and tomorrow; and supply chain recovery in Covid-19 times. Moderated by M. R. Prasanna, Consultant, Arbitrator, Mediator; the panel saw participation from Rajiv Choubey, Chief Legal Officer, ACC Limited; Dr. Sanjeev Gemawat, Executive Director & Group CS, Dalmia Bharat Group; Ashok Kumar P, Vice President, ArcelorMittal Nippon Steel India; Vineet Bose, Senior Vice President-Legal & General Counsel, Nuvoco Vistas Group; and Parvesh Kheterpal, General Counsel (Head Legal & Company Secretary), Feedback Infra.