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  • Jharna Jagtiani

In Conversation with Adv. Swarnendu Chatterjee


Adv. Swarnendu Chatterjee

Swarnendu Chatterjee, the Founder of Law Chambers of Swarnendu Chatterjee, is a distinguished Advocate-on-Record at the Supreme Court of India since March 2020. With a career spanning almost a decade, Swarnendu has honed his expertise in diverse legal domains.


His professional journey includes pivotal roles as Principal Associate in the Dispute Resolution Teams of prominent firms such as Saraf and Partners, L&L Partners, and MAP Corporate Legal. Notably, he served as a chamber junior to Late Shri P.P. Rao from 2013-2017 and as a principal associate to ASG Hon’ble Justice P S Narasimha (Judge, Supreme Court of India) from October 2017-April 2018.


Swarnendu specializes in Civil Law, Constitutional Law, Insolvency Laws, Taxation Laws, Labour Law, Criminal Law, and Arbitration. His extensive experience encompasses virtually all aspects of litigation and arbitration, both in domestic and international jurisdictions.


Frequently appearing before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India and various High Courts, including the High Court of Delhi, Jharkhand, Andhra Pradesh and Telangana, Calcutta, Allahabad High Court, and Madhya Pradesh High Court, Swarnendu is recognized as a lead counsel before various judicial and quasi-judicial forums.


Apart from his advocacy, Swarnendu is actively involved in academia, having conducted Guest Lectures and Value-Added Courses at prestigious universities on Commercial Laws, Arbitration, and Insolvency Laws. His commitment to legal scholarship is evident in over 50 publications in various esteemed journals, both online and in print.


Swarnendu's outstanding contributions to the legal field were acknowledged with the Lex-Falcon Award in April 2021 in Dubai, where he was recognized among the top 100 young achievers in the legal field for 2020-21. Furthermore, he was awarded as the "Best Insolvency and Bankruptcy Lawyer of the Year-India" at the LexTalk World Conference in Singapore 2022.


His illustrious career includes advising on complex matters such as the Insolvency Process of Essar Projects (India) Limited, the Insolvency Resolution Process of Jet Airways (India) Private Limited, and various other high-stakes cases. Swarnendu's multifaceted expertise and dedication to the legal profession continue to make him a prominent figure in India's legal landscape.


Student Assistant: Chirukandath Balu Shreyas , Student, IFIM School of Law, Bengaluru


Can you tell us about your journey and how you established the Law Chambers of Swarnendu Chatterjee?

The Law Chambers of Swarnendu Chatterjee was founded in 2022, and at the time of this interview, it has been operating for one year and three months. Despite encountering a few twists and turns along the way, the firm has navigated through these challenges with minimal trouble, maintaining a smooth operation. The law firm has been successful in attracting a steady flow of clients, taking up an average of five cases per month.


In your opinion, what are the key challenges and opportunities in the field of Insolvency and Bankruptcy law in India?

In my opinion, the field of Insolvency and Bankruptcy law in India presents both challenges and opportunities. As a piece of advice, I encourage legal professionals not to limit themselves to a single area of practice. The legal field offers a vast array of opportunities, and law students should explore various areas before specializing. My own career has involved working in diverse fields such as criminal law, banking, finance, and commercial & corporate law, enabling me to build a strong foundation and gain the trust of clients early in my career.


How do you stay updated with the latest developments and changes in the legal landscape, both domestically and internationally?

Staying updated with the latest developments and changes in the legal landscape, both domestically and internationally, is crucial. Being a lawyer is not just a job; it is a profession driven by passion. Constant reading with an open mind is essential to remain well-versed in the legal world. I personally keep myself updated through various sources, including apps like Live Law and Bar & Bench, to ensure I am well-informed.


Can you tell us about your publications in legal journals and your nomination as an expert on Commercial Laws and Insolvency Laws?

I have been recognized for my expertise in Commercial Laws and Insolvency Laws and have had the privilege of being nominated as an expert in these areas. Notably, I received the Lex Falcon Global Awards in Singapore, primarily due to the favorable outcomes achieved in several high-profile cases, including my role as lead counsel in the Jet Airways case.


How do you approach building and maintaining strong relationships with clients, colleagues, and other professionals in the legal field?

Building and maintaining strong relationships with clients, colleagues, and other professionals in the legal field are of utmost importance. Networking and maintaining positive relationships with senior lawyers can be advantageous, especially for those starting their legal careers. It is crucial to conduct oneself with professionalism and integrity to ensure lasting connections and fruitful collaborations.


What strategies do you employ to effectively represent your clients' interests during dispute resolution processes, including arbitration?

Effectively representing clients' interests during dispute resolution processes, including arbitration, requires tailored strategies for each case. There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and the strategy adopted will depend on the unique circumstances and intricacies of the case at hand.


How do you handle the pressure and demands of a busy legal practice, particularly when dealing with high-profile cases?

Handling the pressure and demands of a busy legal practice, particularly when dealing with high-profile cases, is not a significant challenge for me. My previous experience as a managing associate in top-tier law firms such as Luthra & Luthra and Saraf & Partners has equipped me with the necessary skills to manage a team efficiently and handle demanding situations with confidence.


Can you share an example of a particularly challenging case you have worked on and how you approached it to achieve a favorable outcome?

While I cannot pinpoint a specific challenging case, the Jet Airways case stands out as a significant achievement. As the lead counsel, I faced formidable opposition from well-established international lawyers. Despite the challenges, I was able to navigate through the complexities of the case and secure a favorable outcome for my clients.


Where do you see yourself and the Law Chambers of Swarnendu Chatterjee in the future? What are your long-term goals and aspirations?

Looking ahead, I envision the Law Chambers of Swarnendu Chatterjee continuing to thrive and build a strong reputation within the legal industry. Our long-term goals and aspirations involve maintaining a robust clientele and delivering high-quality legal services. By doing so, we aim to cement our position as a trusted and respected law firm in the future.


How has your experience working with Saraf and Partners, L&L Partners, and MAP Corporate Legal shaped your legal career?

Working with prominent law firms like Saraf and Partners, L&L Partners, and MAP Corporate Legal has significantly shaped my legal career. These experiences exposed me to a wide range of legal matters and allowed me to work on complex cases that involved various areas of law. It helped me build a strong foundation in dispute resolution and gain practical insights into handling intricate legal issues. Collaborating with senior lawyers and experienced professionals in these firms honed my legal skills, research capabilities, and strategic thinking, which have been invaluable assets in my current practice.


Could you share some highlights from your experience as a chamber junior to Late Shri P.P. Rao and Hon’ble Justice P S Narasimha?

Serving as a chamber junior to Late Shri P.P. Rao and Hon’ble Justice P S Narasimha was a transformative phase of my career. I had the privilege of working closely with legal luminaries, witnessing their approach to legal analysis, advocacy, and decision-making. This exposure significantly enhanced my understanding of constitutional matters and intricate legal intricacies. I gained insights into handling high-stake cases and learned valuable lessons in maintaining ethical standards and professionalism. The guidance and mentorship I received during this period have had a lasting impact on my legal career.


As an Advocate-On-Record designated by the Supreme Court of India, what does this designation entail and what responsibilities does it involve?

The designation of Advocate-On-Record by the Supreme Court of India is a prestigious achievement that allows me to directly represent clients in the Supreme Court. This designation signifies my competence in court procedures and the rules of practice in the Supreme Court. As an Advocate-On-Record, I have the responsibility of preparing, filing, and presenting cases before the court. This involves drafting petitions, pleadings, and other legal documents, as well as appearing in hearings and presenting oral arguments. It is a role that demands meticulous attention to detail, a deep understanding of legal principles, and effective communication skills.


What are some of the most significant cases you have handled, particularly in the fields of Insolvency and Bankruptcy?

I have had the privilege of handling several significant cases in the field of Insolvency and Bankruptcy. Notable cases include the Insolvency Process of Essar Projects (India) Limited and Bhartiya Defence India Limited. I have provided comprehensive legal advice to the liquidators and insolvency professionals in these cases, navigating complex legal and procedural challenges. These cases have given me the opportunity to apply my expertise in insolvency laws and contribute to the resolution of intricate financial matters.


Can you discuss your role in the Insolvency Process of Essar Projects (India) Limited and Bhartiya Defence India Limited?

In the Insolvency Process of Essar Projects (India) Limited and Bhartiya Defence India Limited, I advised Deloitte, who were the liquidators and insolvency professionals. My role included providing legal guidance on various aspects of the litigation under the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code. I assisted in preparing and filing legal documents, analyzing complex financial matters, and presenting arguments before relevant legal forums. This experience allowed me to deepen my understanding of insolvency laws and their application in intricate cases.


How do you approach representing and advising clients involved in complex commercial and corporate disputes?

When representing clients in complex commercial and corporate disputes, my approach is rooted in a thorough analysis of the legal and factual aspects of the case. I collaborate closely with clients to understand their objectives and concerns, ensuring that our strategies align with their goals. As already stressed my approach in dealing with clients varies from case to case and I try to stay flexible to the varying demands and nuances of the cases undertaken


What has been your experience appearing before the Supreme Court and various High Courts? Any notable cases you can share?

Appearing before the Supreme Court and various High Courts has been a privilege and an enriching experience. I have had the opportunity to present cases before these esteemed courts, advocating for clients on matters of substantial legal significance. Notable cases include representing the Association of Aggrieved Workmen (Regd.) in an appeal against the approval of a Resolution Plan for Jet Airways (India) Private Limited before the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT). The media reported widely on the judgment dated 21.10.2022. These experiences have further enhanced my advocacy skills and deepened my understanding of the legal landscape.


Could you talk about your involvement in matters related to debt recovery, banking and financial issues, and service matters?

My involvement in matters related to debt recovery, banking and financial issues, and service matters has been extensive. I have represented leading financial institutions, Non-Banking Financial Companies, and individuals in applications for recovery before forums such as the Debt Recovery Tribunal. My experience spans advising on debt recovery strategies, navigating intricate financial regulations, and advocating for clients in service-related disputes. This exposure has given me insights into the complexities of financial matters and the importance of tailored legal strategies.


How do you balance your roles as an advocate and as a guest lecturer in various universities? How do these roles complement each other?

Balancing my roles as an advocate and a guest lecturer in various universities has been mutually beneficial. My expertise in various fields of law, coupled with my passion for writing, has granted me opportunities to share knowledge with students at India's top National Law Universities. By imparting knowledge to young legal minds, I believe I am nurturing their thoughts and creativity, enriching the legal community as a whole.


What skills and qualities do you believe are essential for a successful lawyer in your areas of expertise?

Essential skills and qualities for a successful lawyer in my areas of expertise include a genuine passion for learning, a hunger for knowledge, and a proactive approach to work. Monetary gains should never be the primary concern for individuals entering the legal field. Instead, a commitment to continuous learning and personal growth should be the driving force.

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