To succeed in litigation and real estate law, you need to have a deep understanding of the legal principles and procedures that apply to these fields- Murtaza Kachwalla, Partner at Argus Partners (Solicitors & Advocates)

This interview has been published by Priyanka Karwa and The SuperLawyer Team

As a conversation starter, could you please tell us about your background and how you developed your expertise in commercial and property-related litigations?

I am born and brought up in Mumbai. I studied law at Government Law College at Mumbai and started interning at Mulla & Mulla & Craigie Blunt & Caroe in my 2nd year of law. During my internship I worked on several commercial and property related litigations. After I graduated, I moved firms and continued to work commercial litigation matters. I also do a fair amount of real estate matters. I have had the privilege of assisting great seniors who were experts in commercial litigation and property related matters and thereby gained a fair amount of experience in litigation and real estate matters.

What do you think are the biggest challenges facing corporations and individuals in litigation today, and how can they navigate them successfully?

There are several challenges that corporations and individuals face in litigation today, some of which include:

  1. Cost: Litigation can be incredibly expensive, with legal fees, court costs, and other expenses. This can be a significant burden for both individuals and corporations.
  2. Time: Litigation can take a long time, often stretching on for months or even years.
  3. Risk: Litigation also carries a significant amount of risk, as the outcome of a case can be unpredictable and can have long-lasting consequences for both individuals and corporations.

To navigate these challenges successfully, individuals and corporations should consider several strategies:

  1. Manage costs: While litigation can be expensive, there are steps that can be taken to manage costs, such as negotiating legal fees, using alternative dispute resolution methods etc.
  2. Be strategic: Developing a clear strategy for the case can help individuals and corporations manage their time and resources more effectively and increase their chances of success.
  3. Communicate effectively: Open and transparent communication with legal counsel can help ensure that everyone is on the same page and can work together more effectively to achieve the desired outcome.

You have also represented clients in high-stake domestic and international arbitration proceedings. What are some of the key differences between arbitration and litigation, and when is one more appropriate than the other?

Arbitration is a process in which a neutral third party, known as an arbitrator, hears evidence and arguments from both sides and makes a final decision. The decision of the arbitrator is binding, meaning that the parties must accept it as final and cannot appeal it except in very limited circumstances. Arbitration is generally less formal and less expensive than litigation and may be quicker in some cases.

Litigation, on the other hand, is the process of bringing a case before a court of law. The court hears evidence and arguments from both sides and makes a final decision, which can be appealed to a higher court if the losing party chooses to do so. Litigation is generally more formal and more expensive than arbitration and can take longer to reach a final resolution.

Whether arbitration or litigation is more appropriate will depend on the specific circumstances of the dispute. In general, arbitration may be more appropriate if the parties want a quicker and less expensive resolution, and if the dispute involves commercial or contractual issues. Litigation may be more appropriate if the dispute involves complex legal or constitutional issues or if one party is seeking a significant monetary award or other type of relief. Ultimately, the decision to use arbitration or litigation will depend on the preferences of the parties involved and their respective legal strategies.

Real estate matters are a significant part of your practice. What are some of the most common issues that arise in property-related transactions, and how can clients protect themselves?

Some of the most common issues that arise in property related transactions are:

Title documents are not stamped and registered. It is essential for transfer documents to be stamped and registered failing which title does not pass. Pre-nineties parties would not stamp and register documents.

In land transactions, revenue records remain to be updated.

In some cases, the original owner has passed away leaving behind will. These wills are sometimes not probated.

Family arrangements entered into between the successors of the original owner are not adequately stamped and registered.

It is essential for a party purchasing property to do a proper title due diligence before purchasing a property. Public notices must be published, necessary searches in the land and revenue records must be taken. In case of companies, ROC search must be conducted to see if there is any charge on the property. Permission of the Charity Commissioner must be taken in case of sale of property belonging to a public trust. The title to the property must be clear and marketable and without any encumbrance. It is important to take adequate safeguards such as indemnities, representations and warranties from the seller. Nowadays, in view of the PMLA Act, it is also suggested that the source of funds out of which the seller purchased the property should also be checked. Purchasers must seek advice of lawyers before purchasing properties and seek their assistance in preparing the documentation. This is important so that they do not have any issues when they want to sell the property.

How do you stay up-to-date with the latest developments in your areas of expertise, and what resources do you rely on?

There are multiple online/ offline resources as on date to aid lawyers stay upto date with the legal developments. However, what I feel is imperative is the discipline and hunger for knowledge. Argus Partners has a robust Knowledge Management practice which ensures that every lawyer in the Firm stays updated with the recent changes/ modifications in his/ her area of practice. Further, we have created internal databases in the Firm for practice areas like arbitration and insolvency which witnesses regular developments. The responsibility to keep these databases up and running is shared by every lawyer of the Firm of the respective practice areas.  

Can you share some advice for law students and young lawyers who aspire to have a successful career in litigation and real estate law?

To succeed in litigation and real estate law, you need to have a deep understanding of the legal principles and procedures that apply to these fields. Make sure to take relevant courses during law school, participate in moot court, research/ thought papers and seek out opportunities to work with experienced law firms/ lawyers in these areas for internships/ research associate/ paralegal positions.

I believe that building relationships with other lawyers and professionals in the industry is critical for success along with developing good communication skills. Communication is key in litigation and real estate law, whether it’s presenting an argument in court or negotiating a deal with a client. Practice your writing and public speaking skills and always seek feedback from mentors and colleagues to improve.

Another aspect which I feel is critical to be good lawyer is being detail-oriented. In real estate law, even a small mistake or oversight can have significant consequences. Attention to detail is critical, so make sure to double-check your work and take the time to thoroughly review any legal document.

And last but not the least, stay up-to-date on legal developments will go a long way in making you a champion in your field.

Thus, by focusing on these areas, you can build a strong foundation for a successful career in litigation and real estate law. Remember, success in any field requires hard work, dedication, and a willingness to learn and grow over time.

Lastly, what are your future goals and plans for your career, and what are you most excited about in the coming years?

The ultimate goal is to build a firm which believes in quality, gives client’s excellent advice and helps in getting the best outcomes. The firm is doing some top notch work and growing at a great pace.

Get in touch with Murtaza Kachwalla-

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