Vibhanshu Srivastava specializes in dispute resolution and has diverse experience in handling a vast array of Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution matters arising out of corporate/commercial transactions, tender-preconditions and terms, winding up of a company, oppression and mismanagement, intellectual property disputes and real-estate dealings. He advises clients on formulating effective strategies for dispute resolution and appears frequently in the Supreme Court, various High Courts, Commercial and Arbitral Tribunals and Consumer Courts.
Q. Could you tell us about Risis Legal, the areas of practice and your clientele.
The metro cities in India have come to a saturation point and in the past decade India has seen a rise of its state capitals which are becoming economically more prosperous and hence there is an increased demand for professional services.
Risis Legal was conceived in 2016 with a vision to provide professional and reliable legal services to businesses and individuals not only in new and emerging areas of law but also in traditional practice areas. Since its conceptualization the firm has withstood the challenges and has also undergone structural changes and today the firm stands with three partners who work closely with each other and at the same time individually lead separate areas of practice for the firm—Service, Electricity and Real Estate Laws, Arbitration and Commercial Litigation and well as Traditional Civil Practice and advisory on emerging areas of law. With such a diverse practice the firm is uniquely placed to cater to clients with a range of legal needs. While the rules of conduct of bar council do not view kindly the disclosure of one’s clientele, however, we can certainly disclose that Government Corporations, major consumer electronics company, major FMCG manufacturers, Automobile companies, e-commerce company and high net worth individuals are all our clients.
Q. What are the major challenges that lawyers usually face in cases pertaining to corporate and commercial litigation as well as white collar crime in India?
This is not a question which is as straightforward as it looks. The challenges that lawyers face can vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Again, in the past decade there have been frequent changes to commercial and corporate law, the new Companies Act has been introduced, the Arbitration Act has undergone huge amendments, the Taxation regime has changed, the commercial courts Act and the IBC have been introduced and therefore the whole practice of commercial litigation has changed considerably. This change has unfortunately not been properly absorbed in smaller metropolitan regions and the lawyers are still likely to face courts which are not exactly aware of these laws. Further, the courts where the seat of original civil jurisdiction still lies with the lower courts, the general delay in matters being heard and disposed of put up a real challenge before the lawyers. Further, the execution of the awards/decrees in these matters still remain a challenge clearly because the execution still lies with the traditional district administration, dealing with which is a huge task.
Q. Alternate Dispute Resolution is being perceived as being immensely helpful in lessening the judiciary’s burden. In your opinion, what is the future of ADR in India?
These are two questions in one. The judiciary in the country is so over-burdened that a single Act alone in not going to help it lessen its burden. What plagues the judiciary is not just the sheer volume of matters but also shortage of judges, lack of proper infrastructure, the ever reluctant executive, and continuous creation of new laws by the legislature without realizing that every new law burdens the judiciary. This being said, I do believe that ADR has definitely sped up the system of resolving and adjudication commercial disputes. It has definitely brought in the much needed flexibility to the system. However, a lot of matters do get stuck at the execution stage but I believe there are some things that we have to live with.
And yes, as far as the future of ADR in India is concerned, it is bright. A little more transparency would go a long way in making it widely acceptable.
Q. The current pandemic has digitalised the legal proceedings. How was your experience of virtual litigation? What do you think are the positives and challenges in virtual hearings?
It has been a very mixed response! At times, the VC Court proceedings have helped me multitask. I’ve attended VC hearings while travelling, soon after rushing out from other Court/Tribunal (which would otherwise be difficult had both the Courts been working physically) and the likes. Besides, there have been days on which I waited whole day for single virtual appearance and the VC link for the same, but eventually got disheartened because of server errors. Seems like “server is down” is not only true for our banks but also our courts. But eventually I won’t complain as technology is prone to faulter and besides, arguing before the Judge over a phone call (made by the Bench Secretary of the Court) has its own share of fun.
Q. Lately, Media Trials have assumed great significance. Do you think that trial by media is a hindrance to fair investigation? If yes, then what role can the laws play to restrain the media from indulging in such trials?
Truly, at best they help scandalizing the whole affair and rest these cheap media trials are good for nothing! Media houses are calling to be regulated and there’s no better time to subject them to strict vigil.
Q. Do you think Artificial Intelligence and legal technology in legal research can reduce the burden of lawyers and improve the efficiency of the legal system?
Artificial intelligence has become all pervasive. It is there in our daily lives and therefore the legal profession is not going to be untouched from it. Lawyers are already taking help of legal research tools that learn and adapt. There are also tools that sort the documents for you, mark there relevant portions and such tools are already reducing the burden of clients. New technologies such as Blockchain will also ensure that manipulation at the level of the government is also reduced which means that the efficiency of legal system will improve.
I can name a few tools but I guess that would be free promotion for them. Also, I wish there is an AI system that can help lawyers get their legitimate fee from the Client.
Q. What advice would you like to give to young lawyers who are starting their own practice/law firms?
There is a universal advice that applies to almost all walks of life and that is honesty and hard work. And by hard work I don’t mean mindless slogging but being dedicated to your work. And one more advice for the hardworking lawyers — Never take your personal life for granted; no client is worth giving up your peace of mind.