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Re-Innovating The Legal Sector With Bharat Anand

Legal is a black and white sector. Listen to Divya dialogue with Bharat Anand, Partner, Corporate at Khaitan & Co. about how the legal sector will re-innovate and digitise itself.  

“In the manner which COVID-19 has affected the legal sector; it has forced everyone to adapt and improvise.”

How is the legal sector going digital?

Work From Home:

It was initially a policy that has now become an everyday reality.

DR Pro Tip: Employee policies & handbooks will need to re-drafted to allow work from home as a norm. Most Indian law firms counted ‘work from home’ as a paid leave for an employee – that will need to change.

Digitisation:

  • E-signatures were used provisionally, but are now relied upon to get documents signed, manage contracts and run transactions.
  • The legal sector depends on staff members to pull up data files physically. However, working from home, that trend has shifted to data getting stored on the cloud.

Re-evaluating Legacies:

A custom to stand when entering a court has been in practice for years. Practices like these are being re-defined today when joining a virtual court.

FYI With DR: Companies Act, 2013 allows participation of directors in a board meeting through video conferencing or other audio-visual means with exceptions to some important mandates like approval of the annual financial statements, which require an in-person meeting.

Will a contract be valid if signed with a digital signature?

Digital signatures are recognised in India but have to be obtained by submitting Indian documents like your Aadhar card.

DR Pro Tip: If your corporation does not have an Indian authorised representative, that will be a problem. As only Indian citizens can obtain a digital signature under the current laws.

What reforms will emerge in the legal sector?

Cloud Computing Software:

Employees in a law firm learn by being physically present and ‘ on the job’. Now all the learning will happen online and through software. Hence, the technology will need to be advance enough to replicate the office dashboard on your laptop. Currently, Citrix is the go-to software for businesses.

Specialisation:

“With the digital switch, how do you train juniors?” A shift from generalisation to specialisation will emerge. Everyone will have to create a USP for themselves early on in their career – now that learning will take place through technology, and not ‘in-person’.  

DR Pro Tip: Citrix allows the individuals of an enterprise to work and collaborate remotely regardless of device or network.

What are the challenges the legal sector is facing during COVID-19? 

  • The Disaster Management Act, 2005, has been tested nationally for the first time. 
  • Nowadays, courts are hearing only urgent matters, and people who are filling for PILs (public interest litigation) are not being heard.

Can drafting the right clause help deal with a pandemic like COVID-19?

Ever since SARS broke out in 2003, Wimbledon invested USD 3 Million by paying premiums to their insurance company for business interruption and recovered USD 141 Million this year due to COVID-19. There are different types of insurance and currently, one that will pay out a premium for COVID-19 was not inserted in many contractual agreements. This will change. Now, contracts will have clauses for business interruption caused due to pandemics like COVID-19, including the original fire, earthquake etc. What will be interesting on how these clauses are drafted, as you have to show damage to business to recover your insurance claim. 

Will COVID-19 affect the current data laws in India?

The adaption of the Data Protection Bill, 2019 into law is not at the forefront of the government’s agenda due to more pressing issues. However, when things do get back to ‘normal’, the issue of data protection & privacy caused by apps like Zoom will need to be pressed on by the Government of India.

We also dialogued with Tarun Sawhney on how the commodities sector will be affected during COVID-19, check it out here.

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