Legal market overview in Pakistan
There is an element of uncertainty in the market for domestic clients due to deteriorating economic conditions in Pakistan. The government has been introducing various initiatives to increase accountability and transparency and as a result some companies are adopting a ‘wait and see’ approach before investing in local projects or businesses. All of this has led to a decrease in banking activity, transactional and project work. However, sophisticated foreign investors are still enquiring about opportunities to invest in the energy sector and are also interested in the large consumer market (primarily retail and food).
There is still plenty of contentious work, with firms reporting increased levels of shareholder disputes and disagreements between joint venture parties. Also of note is the growing trend for foreign companies to steer disputes away from the domestic courts to a neutral international arena. Some firms have developed considerable expertise in all forms of international dispute resolution. Law firms that are heavily reliant on domestic clients are struggling and are trying to build up a roster of international clients to maintain a steady work flow.
However, in spite of this difficult financial situation there has been work in the key sectors of energy, power and infrastructure lately. Some firms have been kept busy with work in the so-called China-Pakistan Economic Corridor - a collection of infrastructure projects that are currently under construction throughout Pakistan. There are also tremendous opportunities in digital finance once certain economic and political situations in the country are resolved.
Among the major firms, HaidermotaBNR has split into two different entities and Haidermota & Co Advocates is now a key player in the market. LMA|Ebrahim Hosain is no longer in existence, having separated into two different firms - FGE Ebrahim Hosain and Liaquat Merchant Associates. Vellani & Vellani has merged with Amhurst Brown. RIAA BARKER GILLETTE is another established firm, along with Mohsin Tayebaly & Co.