India hires US-based law firm to represent it in Khaitan 2G license case

The case will take place in London.

By Deepak Chitnis

WASHINGTON, DC: The Government of India has hired the legal services of US-based law firm Curtis, Mallet-Prevost, Cole and Mosle LLP (Curtis LLP for short) for defense representation in the case brought against them by Khaitan Holdings, Ltd.

The company is suing the Indian Government over the cancellation of 21 telecom 2G licenses in 2012. The licenses were held by Loop Telecom – which Khaitan Holdings has a 26.95% stake in – and those licenses were paid for with roughly Rs. 1,455 crore. Additionally, Rs. 812 crore worth of guarantees were made to assure that the licenses would remain active.

When the licenses got cancelled, Khaitan Holdings initiated arbitration proceedings against the Government, and is seeking exorbitant monetary damages. They are looking for a return on their $140 million investment into Loop Telecom, as well as 12% interest from the time the initial investment was made up until the day they receive their restitution. In addition, they claim that the market value of their licenses has lost them $300 million, which they are looking to get reimbursed, and are also seeking lost shareholder revenue of over $1 billion.

Disregarding the interest, the monetary value alone of the damages comes to $1.44 billion, if Khaitan Holdings gets everything it is asking for in the lawsuit. It is highly likely, therefore, that the government will try to settle the dispute out-of-court for a much smaller sum, and to save the time that would otherwise be spent in a lengthy judicial battle.

Curtis LLP’s services will not come cheaply, either. The firm charges between $160 and $700 per hour, depending on the seniority of the lawyer charging for his or her services. Additional, they charge $60 an hour for proofreading services and ten cents per photocopy. They will also be flown business class wherever the litigation proceedings may take them, and will have third-party expenses covered as well.

The firm is headquartered in New York City but offices in Houston and Washington, DC, and in several other cities worldwide, such as Paris, Frankfurt, and Dubai.

The legal proceedings between the Indian Government and Khaitan Holdings will take place in London.

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