Do the words ‘corporate litigation’ run an electric wave down your spine? Are you willing, ready and excited to bungee jump into the arena of corporate battles? Or are you a ‘never give up’ justice seeker hell bent on getting shareholders their rightful dues from the management? Are you an experienced litigator in different areas, but are now tilting towards corporate litigation? Are you finding that clients who come to you for corporate consultancy and compliance work now need someone to represent them before a forum for insolvency/amalgamation matters, and you need to know how to help them?
If you are in any of the above spaces, you will move towards National Company Law Tribunal (NCLT) litigation. The NCLT is a uniquely placed tribunal, since it performs the dual role of a Tribunal under the Companies Act, 2013 and the Adjudicating Authority under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. Within a short span of time since its formation in 2016, there are 16 benches of NCLT established in India. There are 6 benches at Delhi (one being the Principal Bench), one at Allahabad, one at Bengaluru, two at Ahmedabad, five at Mumbai, two at Chennai, one at Chandigarh, one at Cuttack, one at Guwahati, one at Kochi, one at Jaipur, three at Hyderabad and two at Kolkata. Two more benches are proposed at Amravati and Indore. This shows the quantum of matters handled by this forum. Some benches like Mumbai and Delhi are extremely busy with judges of each court hearing some 50-60 matters daily.
The demand for professionals who understand the proceedings under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (IBC) is slated to increase consistently, particularly in a downward trend economy, where generating revenue keeps becoming more and more difficult, resulting in payment defaults. The two main areas for practice under the IBC, from a legal perspective, are being an Insolvency Resolution Professional (IRP) and representing clients before the NCLT. Both the Institute of Company Secretaries of India and the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India have set up their own Institute of Insolvency Professionals (IIPs) to train their members to function as IRPs, thus increasing the competition in this sphere. In representing clients before the NCLT however, the lawyers have an edge because the other two professions (CA/CS), though permitted to represent clients before the NCLT, do not have a track record of being trained in court craft.
Insolvency matters have seen a great surge and on opening the cause list of any of the NCLTs located throughout the country, you will see that section 7/section 9 applications under the IBC kind of dominate the list. This priority is especially required since unlike other matters, insolvency matters need to be dealt with, within a specified deadline.
Before the NCLT came into being, matters like amalgamation and capital reduction were already being dealt with at the High Court level, where only advocates could represent the clients. Moving these matters to the NCLT has not only increased the avenues for CA/ CS, but also junior lawyers, who would face a bout of nervousness at the mention of High Court proceedings. Tribunals do not seem so intimidating.
Matters under the jurisdiction of the NCLT in the Companies Act, 2013 include amalgamations and mergers, which have a steady flow of work, whatever be the status of the economy. Consider this: in a downward treading economy, companies will be looking to get merged to reduce operational costs and acquirers may also be able to buy businesses for cheap, thus increasing the amalgamations and mergers. Further, maintaining multiple entities in a group structure may become expensive, resulting in restructuring and amalgamations. Where it is a booming economy, investment will abound and there may be demergers to facilitate investment in specific businesses. Further, entities may look to amalgamate and increase their market share by synergising operations.
Oppression and mismanagement matters also tend to exist in all economic situations as difficult economic situations may result in creating rifts between family members or friends who may otherwise be working in harmony with each other and bring them to mismanagement. In an upward facing economy, where the valuation of a company is high and it is cash rich, greed may raise its ugly head, thus resulting in one of the shareholder groups trying to oppress each other. The stakes in oppression and mismanagement matters also tend to be higher. It can be fulfilling on all counts: you would need to put in all your skills and understand the facts and circumstances and apply the law and precedents to specific cases, you can be securing a justice for a shareholder who was unfairly treated and the payoff will be good since the value of shares involved can be high.
This course is recognized by the National Skill Development Corporation, a PPP under the Ministry of Skill Development and Entrepreneurship of the Government of India. You will receive a certificate cobranded by NSDC and Skill India on successful completion.
This is how the certificate from NSDC and Skill India will look as per the current applicable format (may change as per the approval authorities):
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