Ish Jain is a Senior Partner at Regius Legal LLP. He is one of the youngest Advocates to complete his LLB (5 years programme) along with 2 Masters (LLM) and 4 Diploma courses in different fields of law by the age of 23 and has a diversified and strong foundation of technical knowledge and research in his fields of expertise. He possesses expertise in litigation & arbitration, advisory and regulatory across diversified areas Real Estate, Corporate & Commercial transactions, Technology, Aviation law, Space Law and Private Equity & Project Financing. He is also practicing as an Independent Arbitrator since 2016 and has been appointed as an Arbitrator in more than 18 cases. Mr Jain is a member of the Space Generation Advisory Council, working for the (a) Space and Cyber Security Project group and and (b) Space Technologies for Earth Applications project group. He is also an Independent Expert Council at International Academy of Space Law, Russia.
Q. Could you tell us about Regius Legal and the firm’s key practice areas?
Regius Legal LLP is a multi-service law firm with a special focus on litigation (civil and criminal) and Arbitration. Mr. Kiran Jain laid the foundation of his legal practice in 1991 by establishing Kiran Jain & Co. with litigation and Arbitration resolution at the heart of its practice. As part of its growth initiatives, the firm moved from a sole proprietorship structure to a partnership by on-boarding me as a Senior Partner and forming Regius Legal LLP in 2018. The firm today is reckoned as a specialized law firm that combines the meticulous approach of a heritage legal practice with cutting-edge technology and a focus to provide legal assistance towards newly evolving laws and growing industry sectors of the economy.
Besides proven expertise in the Litigation and Arbitration practice, the firm has progressively been handling several high-profile and complex work, both on transactional and contentious side, in the areas of Corporate Laws, Real-Estate, Banking & Finance, Aviation, Arbitration, Technology Law, Space Tech Law, While-collar Crime, Private Equity and Corporate disputes.
Q. What is the scope of International Arbitration in India?
India is currently on a pro-arbitration trend, given the legislative and judicial measures being adopted in the recent past including the amendments in the year 2015 and 2019 to the Indian Arbitration Act. The Amendment of 2019, particularly paved way towards promotion of institutional arbitration in India and fast-track the resolution of commercial disputes by arbitration. Most importantly, the time limit for issuance of an award will most certainly bring about efficiency and institutionalization in arbitration proceedings. Further, the appointment of ‘Arbitral Institutions’ by the Supreme Court and the High Courts and establishment of Arbitration Council of India are necessary steps towards accreditation of arbitrators and laying transparent criteria with respect to the qualifications, experience and norms for accreditation of arbitrators. I feel that the amendments have really been brought to make arbitration process aligned with international best practices and will lay a strong foundation to make India a hub for domestic and international arbitration.
Q. Do we need more well-trained arbitration specialists?
As in any industry, the technical know-how and human capital will form an essential component which would determine the success of India being made an Arbitration Hub. An Arbitrator needs to also qualify as an industry expert and needs to be groomed in order to ensure matters are handled in a professional and competent manner, similar to skills available in countries such as Singapore. As mentioned above, after the 2019 amendment, instead of the court appointing arbitrator(s), now designated graded arbitral institutions will be undertaking this role. Quality of arbitrators will be a key determining factor for International organizations opting to put their stakes in arbitrations which have a seat in India.
Q. Are we as a country equipped, in terms of IP laws, for a future of growth in innovations in the field of manufacturing as well as in the tech and e-commerce spaces?
I would say we are not fully-equipped, but we are on our way and the journey is fast-paced. India improved its ranking in the Global Innovation Index (issued by WIPO) by five places to 52nd in 2019 (from 57th in 2018). Last year, the Government released the first draft of India’s National E-Commerce Policy, and a second draft has been shared earlier this month by the Department for Promotion of Industry and Internal Trade (DPIIT).
Another significant progress has been made by way of introduction of draft guidelines on the implementation of IPR policy for Academic Institutions, prepared by the Cell for IPR Promotion & Management (CIPAM). These guidelines have floated with an objective to foster innovation and creativity in the areas of technology, sciences, and humanities by nurturing new ideas and research, in an ethical environment.
The Ministry of Consumer Affairs, Food and Public Distribution (Department of Consumer Affairs) has also released Consumer Protection (E-Commerce) Rules, 2020, on July 23, 2020, which are a step further in the direction of ensuring that consumers’ interests are taken care of in the world of ecommerce and technology.
These developments are indicative of the awareness that the country is progressing towards innovation and e-commerce.
Q. We are in the midst of an Artificial Intelligence (AI) boom. What are some of the challenges that AI is posing for the legal system?
The complexities of legal matters are increasing and as technology moves in diverse directions of growth, the laws applicable a few years ago may need to evolve with time. There will be a need for continuous updates in the laws to regulate issues which arise through AI. Various countries are experiencing evolving laws in the field of intellectual property protection of AI-generated works, since AI does not have legal personhood.
Artificial Intelligence will, of course, change the landscape of the legal industry. Rote tasks are eventually becoming redundant and replaced by Artificial Intelligence. Also, while I agree that AI could be game-changer in the way legal practices are run, I don’t think AI can replace the human intelligence, strategy and craft. There is a tacit knowledge every lawyer possesses, which comes from years of experience and dealing with real life matters and transactions. AI will definitely ease operations and may be used in better delivery to clients, but I do feel the replacement of legal acumen of lawyer cannot be done by AI.
Q. Air & Space Law is a highly niche field. In a nutshell, how would you describe your practice in this field?
The firm’s practice in areas like Aviation Law comprises of a wide range of legal services to the sector, right from leasing negotiations to drafting of contracts, aircraft sale agreements and sector-specific matters concerning maintenance/ground handling, liability and insurance. We understand sector’s commercial ecosystem, the structure and business nuances. Apart from handling the disputes and commercial litigation in the sector, we frequently advise banks, financing institutions, leasing companies, as well as NSOPs in commercial transactions, acquisitions and financing matters.
The firm’s practice in the space law has developed since I have personally worked as a consultant to companies in this sector and I am also a member of the Space Generation Advisory Council (SGAC), working on ‘Space and Cyber Security’ Project Group and ‘Space Technologies for Earth Applications’ Project Group. With developments across the globe in last few months, there will be several challenges that both these sectors will need to overcome but the Indian Government has recently announced to boost private participation in space activities, allowing a level playing field for private Space-Tech companies.
Q. You pursued your LL.B. from India and LL.M. from the UK. What was different about reading law in the UK than in India?
I am of the view that legal education in India is very sound in terms of academic relevance. We have some of the best colleges and the education can be compared to international standards. However, the perspective of our education system is more intrinsic and focused on Indian cases. Further, our education system is developed on the classroom teaching and assessment model, whereas education in UK was more research-oriented and has more international content. The depth of research and the amount of time invested in research is much more in UK curriculum. It gave me an insight of the different perspectives of students of other European Countries and also taught me to compare laws of various nations (including UK, US, Switzerland, Netherlands, Germany, France, etc.). More importantly, it taught me to critically evaluate various problems in a variety of practice areas beyond the curriculum of both LLM Programme.
Q. Do you feel that there is a need to introduce reforms in the Indian legal education system?
I am of the view that we need to introduce more practical aspects to our legal education system. I’ve always said that law is ‘applied science’ and can’t be practiced in isolation from business and commerce. We need to equip our law students with business acumen and nuances specific to different industry sectors as well. It is important to incorporate the mandatory post-LLB articleship of one/two years before being allowed to appear for the Bar Council Criminal Exams, a route followed in several common law countries.
Also, the curriculum needs to be revised to keep up with evolving laws in the fields, example: data protection, sports laws, crypto-currencies, etc.
Q. By the age of just 23, you had already achieved a lot academically. How would you describe your professional journey so far?
You are right, my journey in Law began in the year 2004, when I was admitted to the dual degree programme, Bachelors in Legal Science (BLS) and LL.B. – 5 years integrated two degree programme and before I began practice at the age of 23, I already completed two Bachelors degree, 2 Masters programme and several diploma courses certificate courses relating to the various legal fields.
It is with this academic background that my professional journey began and I worked with couple of best law firms in India. In 2012, I started my practice as a Counsel & Legal Advisor and exploring fields where I could further achieve specialization and create a niche for my service offerings. In this process, I developed a diverse legal practice in Real Estate, Arbitration, Corporate & Commercial, and Technology Law. Soon I was introduced to the field of aviation as well, helping clients with disputes and Arbitration. Over the years that practice led me to the Space-tech industry in India. The peculiarities of both the sectors kindled my flame to learn more about it and after spending considerable amount of time in research and knowledge exchange with several industry players, I had taken the lead to establish the Air & Space Law practice. We are now amongst the very few specialized firms that have developed a niche in the Aviation and Space sector, with my involvement in advising and assisting several companies in the these sectors; and my involvement with international organizations that have committed themselves towards growth and upliftment of these sectors.
Q. What are your future plans?
I am a firm believer in constantly upgrading one’s skill-set to remain ahead of the curve and maintain a competitive edge. As someone who has always propagated the concept of synergy, I feel that when we conjoin and interact with industry experts and stalwarts, we build a community where the whole is larger than the sum of its parts. I intend to, in addition to managing my practice, build a forum of like-minded individuals, with one prime interest – furtherance of justice at national, international and global levels.