New Delhi: The Finance Ministry is considering engaging law firms to represent India in disputes, including arbitrations, under its investment and trade agreements.
"The Department of Economic Affairs... intends to empanel international or domestic law firms for the purpose of representing the government in arbitrations/disputes" under Indian Bilateral Investment Promotion and Protection Agreements or Treaties and investment chapters of trade pacts like FTAs, CEPAs and CECAs, the Finance Ministry said.
India has so far signed BIPAs and BITs (Bilateral Investment Treaties) with 83 countries. Of 83 BIPAs, 73 have already been enforced.
BITs allow settling disputes between an investor and the host government as well as between two governments.
As per the request for proposal, the scope of work for domestic law firms would include assessing and advising the government on legal issues related to arbitration proceedings under Indian BITs and prepare a strategy for representing India.
They would also offer advice under the International Centre on Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), UNCITRAL Rules or any other applicable arbitration rules.
The selected domestic law firms would also have to work in cooperation with the office of Attorney-General of India or the Solicitor-General of India.
The RFP said they would represent the government in legal proceedings, including arbitration.
British oil firm Cairn Energy had on March 10 last year sought arbitration under the India-UK Bilateral Investment Protection Agreement, disputing the tax demand of Rs 10,247 crore by Indian authorities.
Geneva-based arbitrator Laurent Levy has been named as the presiding officer of the three-member arbitrator panel to resolve the tax dispute.