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Indo-US businessThe rule of law is not just a prerequisite for a vibrant society based on civil and human rights but also for robust bilateral and global economic and trade relations that are without uncertainties, said an expert Wednesday.

The rule of law is necessary not just for the civil rights and the human rights as is generally believed but even for business and commercial transactions, said James P. Duffy, a convenor of a three-day conference on “Threading the needle in US-India deals: Safe passage through formidable legal risk”, starting here Thursday.

Duffy represents American Bar Association Section of International Law which is jointly organising a three-day conference along with the Society of Indian Law Firms and Services Export Promotion Council.

“Vodafone (tax issue) is a big question for us in the US,” Duffy told newsmen, making it clear that he was “not going to comment on it”.

Pointing out that “Vodafone was not the wisest thing” and there could have been appropriate ways of doing it by minimising its implications, Duffy said the use of tax policy in certain ways inhibits trade.

Duffy said this at a news conference he addressed along with Lalit Bhasin, president of the Society of Indian Law Firms, on the eve of the conference.

Bhasin said though there would not be any session devoted to issues involving Vodafone, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ranbaxy but it would surface during the course of the deliberations at the conference.

Bhasin said such interactions are not directed at influencing government policies but helps lawyers from both sides to understand each other’s legal framework in specific areas.

“We believe in strengthening our economics and commercial relations and promoting trade and business between the two countries. This cannot be achieved without proper legal support and that is where the role of legal profession comes in… Sharing of experiences and knowledge is essential to move forward,” Bhasin said.

Pointing to the participation by the immediate former chief of the American Bar Association Laurel Bellows and another past president William Robinsons-III, Bhasin said such a conference helps in taking best from others’ law.

He said while framing the Competition Act, India relied upon other countries, including the US whose anti-trust law was enacted in 1890.

While Duffy favoured India permitting foreign law firms to operate in India, he said that in New York, one can find foreign law firms which can advise a client on the laws of any country.

Bhasin said while we have a fly in and fly out policy of foreign lawyers coming to India on case to case basis, a liberalised regime for law firms to market their expertise is needed in India.

While law firms are listed on the New York stock exchange in the US, a law firm can’t even market its area-specific expertise in India.

The conference would deliberate on cross-border transactions and investments, listing of Indian companies in the US, government procurement, the future of international arbitration in India, investor class action litigation, trade regulation, and cross-border franchising.


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