The Companies (Amendment) Act 2020 and the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Amendment Act 2020 recently came into force, amending the Companies Act 2013 and the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act 2010. This article sets out the salient changes introduced by both amendment acts, including with respect to producer companies, offences and the remuneration of non-executive directors.
Arbitration evolved as an expeditious, cost-effective, simple and fair alternative to litigation. However, over time, it became costly. Coupled with largely ineffective provisions regarding costs allocation and recoverability, this was considered a roadblock to the development of arbitration in India. Section 31A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, which was introduced in 2015, was thus a welcome step towards costs recoverability being based on rational and realistic criteria.
The topic of judicial interference in arbitration is diverse, primarily because arbitration continues to evolve rapidly in India. It is an area in which provocative ideas abound, with respect to which legal scholars and stakeholders tend to have more questions than answers. A key question in this regard concerns the acceptable level of judicial interference in arbitral awards (being a reflection of the minds of the arbitrators) and where the judiciary should draw the line.
Various jurisdictions provide protection to parodies under the doctrines of fair use and fair dealing. However, the lack of a concrete definition of 'fair dealing' under Indian law creates various pitfalls regarding the term's legal interpretation. Copyright does not protect ideas but only the specific form of expression of the same. Arguably, a definition of parody, outlining its scope and limitations and balancing these competing rights, may be a solution to this issue.
Family settlements and the documents relating thereto have been the subject of litigation for various reasons. One such litigious issue is whether the documents pertaining to family settlements must be registered under the Registration Act. In a recent case, the Supreme Court held that a memorandum of family settlement, which merely records the terms of a family settlement already acted on by the concerned parties, need not be registered.
In view of the COVID-19 pandemic and continuing restrictions on the movement of individuals, the Ministry of Corporate Affairs (MCA) recently issued a circular allowing companies to convene their annual general meeting (AGM) through videoconferencing or other audiovisual means (ie, electronically). With AGMs around the corner, it will be interesting to see how companies will hold virtual AGMs in practice and whether companies and their members will welcome the MCA's relaxations.
The complex nature of estate and succession planning requires the careful assessment of myriad factors. However, when determining the costs associated with planning, an often-overlooked factor is the court fees which may be payable when a succession plan is set into motion. If these are not evaluated at the outset, court fees might come as a shock to heirs seeking to implement the succession plan of a deceased family member.
The Reserve Bank of India recently announced a resolution framework for COVID-19-related stress to address borrower default pursuant to the stress caused by the pandemic without necessitating a change of ownership and without an asset classification downgrade modifying the existing framework. This article focuses on the key changes introduced for corporate loan accounts (ie, exposures other than personal loans).
The judiciary continues to take progressive steps towards making succession law more women friendly. In a recent landmark decision, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court held that daughters and sons have equal coparcenary rights in a Hindu undivided family. The decision clarifies that coparcenary rights are acquired by daughters on their birth and that fathers need not have been alive when the 2005 amendment to the Hindu Succession Act was passed.
In light of the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, India has adopted a similar approach to the United States and Europe and restricted foreign direct investment from certain jurisdictions. By way of a notification issued by the Department of Economic Affairs, the government has introduced measures to curb opportunistic takeovers (direct or indirect) of Indian companies by persons or entities of any country which shares a land border with India.
Although there are no specific rules governing anti-suit injunctions in India, the Indian courts usually grant injunctions on the grounds of equity and preventing miscarriages of justice. While jurisprudence on this matter has been slow to develop, a recent domain name dispute before the Delhi High Court is a significant contribution in this regard.
The Supreme Court recently discussed at length certain key factors that may constitute suspicious circumstances and render a will invalid. The court found that several circumstances surrounding the will's execution were suspicious in nature and concluded that while the existence of one such circumstance would not generally lead to a conclusion of suspicious circumstances, when taken holistically, it was beyond doubt that suspicious circumstances existed.
India's company law regime has evolved over the years and become stricter and more penal in nature. There has been a paradigm shift in the legislature's viewpoint with regard to the Companies Act's stringency. There has also been a recent trend to promote foreign investment in India. Accordingly, the legislature has adopted measures in order to decriminalise – or at least liberalise – India's company law regime.
Despite various government initiatives and the promise of corporate social responsibility, Indian non-governmental organisations are facing a crisis due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, like with most crises, there are also hidden opportunities. One such opportunity is the philanthropic investments of high-net-worth individuals, who could step in (directly or via their family offices or foundations) to help mitigate the funding crisis in the sector.
In order to clarify issues pertaining to the pledge and transfer of shares of insurers by promoters and shareholders, the Insurance Regulatory Development Authority of India recently issued the Circular on the Transfer of Shares of Insurers. This article summarises the key clarifications set out in the circular.
Proxy advisers have gained prominence over recent years in relation to corporate governance matters and have become an integral part of shareholder activism in India. In order to standardise the process across proxy advisory firms, the Securities and Exchange Board of India recently issued its Procedural Guidelines for Proxy Advisers and a circular on grievance resolution between listed entities and proxy advisers.
Owing to rising concerns around mental healthcare in India and the legislative push to recognise the crucial role that medical insurance plays in the treatment of mental disorders globally, the Insurance Regulatory and Development Authority of India has introduced certain measures for the insurance sector aimed at including the treatment of mental illness in the coverage offered under insurance policies. This article summarises the key developments.
In India, many families are reluctant to pass their business wealth and assets onto their married daughters due to the perceived risk that the property ends up being controlled by their daughters' in-laws. This is even more pronounced for promoter families with significant holdings in listed companies. The Securities and Exchange Board of India recently issued informal guidance which dealt with a promoter gifting his shares to his married daughters and the implications under the relevant listed company regulations.
The Ministry of Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises recently notified certain criteria for classifying enterprises as micro, small and medium enterprises (MSMEs) and specified the form and procedure for filing the applicable memorandum. The change in the classification of MSMEs is a part of the relief package offered to the MSME sector amid the COVID-19 outbreak. This reclassification has been well received across sectors as it will help MSMEs to increase in size without losing their entitled benefits.
The increased use of technology in personal and professional life due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has also led to an increase in the need to ensure data protection and privacy. While India has no express legislation governing data protection or privacy, the relevant laws in this respect are the Information Technology Act 2000 and the Information Technology (Reasonable Security Practices and Procedures and Sensitive Personal Data or Information) Rules.