Sandeep Bajaj started his legal career under the mentorship of the office of Amarjit Singh Chandhiok, Senior Advocate and former Additional Solicitor General of India, in the year 2007. Sandeep went on to found the law firm PSL Chambers (earlier known as Pamasis Law Chambers) in the year 2012.
In this interview conducted by our Campus Ambassador Vishal Sharma, Sandeep discusses his journey as a first-generation lawyer, the effect of Covid 19 on the legal industry, and a lot more.
He has had the opportunity of dealing with the matters involving complex legal issues and during practice he has acquired remarkable expertise in the areas of Civil and Corporate Laws. He regularly advises big corporate houses and professionals in India in respect of disputes involving amount of billions dollars.
What are some of the things required for a first-generation lawyer to establish his or her name?
Well, honestly speaking, in the long run it doesn’t matter whether you are a first-generation lawyer or not. Commitment to the profession, integrity and consistent hard work is really all that one needs to last in this profession and that is inevitably going to establish a precedent, if not for the rest of the world; but, surely for oneself.
In the beginning, one may have an edge if they belong to a family of lawyers; but, that eventually fades away and it all boils down to the ability of a professional to showcase their own capability, at the right place and at the opportune time.
The real test in our profession is the ability to last and leave a mark with each opportunity that life affords; where its generally the unanticipated ones that make or break the career of an advocate, considering the gravity attached to even the basic of the services provided by an advocate leading up to crucial submissions made in the Courts.
Have virtual hearings made the access to justice more inclusive in your experience?
Virtual hearings have definitely made the access to court of law much easier for the advocates being able to reach digitally to different parts of a city, state or country from a single point of access, merely by the way of a single click.
However, it can never replace the efficacy of physical hearings.
Though the sudden imposition of attending hearing through virtual means has saved huge costs and the money spent on travel etc. However, our systems still have scope for evolution to catch up with the exponentially changing needs.
As a setback to this new system, it has severely impacted the interest of an ordinary litigants as it is not feasible to take up all the matters pending for final hearing through virtual modes.
Given your expertise, how do you view the evolution of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy jurisprudence in India? Any thoughts on how this jurisprudence will develop and strengthen over the next few years?
In this short span of four years from the promulgation of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 various common lacunae have been exposed. Many Indian corporates lack credit discipline. While, the earlier regime failed to instil confidence leading to its lack of enforcement.
The introduction of IBC, from a third person perspective, appears to be a terrible blow as we have seen many big corporates falling under it. Even after the introduction of the IBC, a constant endeavour is being made to strengthen the regime, for instance by the introduction of Section 29A in the IBC which provides for disqualification of promoters and erstwhile management of a given company in affirmatively participating in the process of corporate insolvency resolution.
Though, the objectives were being achieved, the rigours of the regime started showing an adverse effect on the industry at mass level. The Government had to yet again step in and this led to dilution the intensity of this regime including those helping the entities falling under the category of MSME.
However, from an overall perspective, the IBC regime has served the purpose for which it was brought and has made it uncompromisable for a corporate entity to have discipline in respect of credit worthiness, secretarial compliances inter alia and this would definitely be an enabling measure for entities incorporated in India to grow beyond echelons not imagined by any of the persons that set up the building stones of such entities.
This regime has instilled a fear in the minds of the promoters, of losing the result of their hard work and sweat, in case they fail to be in compliance of the legal regime.
While, there are several changes still required to make the law more workable, but I am convinced that these creases shall also be ironed out in due course.
In your experience, what has been more challenging – transactional work or litigation?
Both are challenging in their own way. There is no straight jacket formula which can describe which category of work is more challenging. It is more to do with one’s own area of interest.
Both are equally demanding in respect of the need for strategy and the need for the ability to gauge unforeseen possibilities and to provide for the same in retrospect.
Personally, I get a kick out of litigation proceedings. Thinking out of the box, challenging settled laws, finding solutions for one’s clients gives an unimaginable opportunity to a professional to be an active participant in the evolution of laws requiring one to be able to convince a Court of law to accept one’s line of argument. This requires an extensive amount of time and energy.
What are some of tricks of the trade to have a successful day in court?
The oldest and a without fail technique, not prescribed in any book, but only instilled as a habit as an uncompromisable standard of preparation; is to know one’s file from page to page.
This not only means being a master of the facts; but also an expert on the law applicable to those facts, whether in favour or against. Set the benchmark so high that it helps one stay humble and have clarity on the brief being represented and thereby, enabling one to focus on the manner of presentation of the case.
A medley of all the above would never disappoint. It is unavoidable to make mistakes; but, the learning lies in never repeating it.
If you were a fresh graduate, what would have been your ideal work place during this pandemic situation?
The important factor is being a part of system which allows one to constantly learn and not to stall one’s knowledge enhancement.
So, I would have joined any office which exposed me to all the facets of our profession and supporting senior (s) would only be the cherry on the cake.
I have always believed that what counts is the learning trajectory marking one’s evolution in the profession and not just the names with which one has associated in the journey.