Singapore Supreme Court allows Harish Salve to appear for Ranbaxy sellers

The Supreme Court of Singapore has allowed Harish Salve to appear before it, reports ET. The veteran lawyer will represent the Singh brothers in the Ranbaxy-Daiichi arbitration case.

Earlier this year, Salve had applied to represent the sellers of Ranbaxy in its arbitration dispute with Daiichi in Singapore’s apex court. However, judge Steven Chong had dismissed the application.

Salve’s application was shot down on the basis of Section 15 of the Legal Profession Act of Singapore, which lays down the conditions that need to be fulfilled before a foreign lawyer is admitted to argue. Among these conditions is that the applicant should be a Queen’s Counsel, or have an equivalent distinction. “Special qualifications or experience for the purpose of the case” also need to be established.

The judge also held that the evidence on Indian law pertaining to the case was not unusually complex or difficult “so as to be beyond the competence of local counsel”, and that allowing foreign counsel to argue in cases where foreign law was to be proved would set an “undesirable precedent”.

Moreover, the fact that the sellers of Ranbaxy did not engage an Indian lawyer at the arbitration stage weighed heavily against Salve’s case.

However, it now seems that the Court has had a change of heart, after the Singh brothers appealed its order passed in February. The proceedings for the same were held in camera.

With Salve getting the green signal to appear in the case, a Singapore-based lawyer reportedly said there is a likelihood that Daiichi may apply to induct an Indian lawyer of similar stature on its local defence team.

The case emanates from a Share Purchase and Share Subscription Agreement signed in June 2008, under which the Daiichi purchased the shares held by the sellers of Ranbaxy. Daiichi later took Ranbaxy to arbitration for having suppressed key reports evidencing widespread breaches. The Tribunal had held in favour of Daiichi, granting the company damages in excess of $500 million. It is this award that the Singh brothers are challenging in the Singapore Supreme Court.

The Court is now expected to fix a date for hearing the case, which was earlier due to come up in November.

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