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Founded in 1980, Akhtar Imam & Associates is one of the leading full service law firms in Bangladesh. Akhtar Imam, the founder and senior partner, is a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and regarded as one of the best legal minds in Bangladesh. The firm is best known for its expertise in company and commercial law, litigation (civil, company and constitutional), domestic and international commercial arbitration, foreign investment, labour, employment, banking, finance and securities laws. The firm’s clients benefit from it’s extensive networks and industry knowledge acquired over 40 years. The partners have led landmark constitutional law cases of great national, historical and economic significance and high value mergers and acquisitions. They regularly drive law and policy reform through public interest litigation, advocacy and engagement with stakeholders, at all levels government, NGOs and the private sector, through participation in roundtables, seminars, webinar and dialogues.
The firm’s impressive array of clients is testament to the high quality of legal services it has been providing over four decades. Over the years the firm has advised global giants like Visa Inc., General Electric, Singer, British American Tobacco, Philip Van Heuson, Ernst & Young, UNDP and Marie Stopes International, among others. In Bangladesh, over the years the Firm has adviced the Bangladesh Bank (central bank of Bangladesh), Pubali Bank Limited (largest private commercial bank), the Department for International Development (DFID), Bangladesh, Pran Group, Akij Group, Globe Pharmaceuticals Group Limited, large telecoms like Grameenphone, the national flag carrier, Biman Bangladesh Airlines, apex trade bodies, like the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) and Dhaka Chambers of Commerce and Industry (DCCI), among others.
Main Areas of Practice:
Foreign Investment: The firm specializes in advising foreign companies on foreign exchange control, regulatory and tax matters, company formation, establishment and closure of branch, liaison and representative offices, registered office and directorial services, VAT, TIN, trade license, Import & Export Registration Certificate, permission from Bangladesh Investment Development Authority, work permit, etc. It advised Ernst & Young, India on closure of its branch office in Bangladesh, formation of a fully owned subsidiary company, all related foreign exchange control and regulatory matters. Recently, it advised an entity of Visa Inc. in establishing a liaison office in Bangladesh.
Corporate/Commercial: The firm specializes in M&A (domestic and cross-border), JVs, re-structuring, corporate taxation, capitalizing businesses through debt and equity transactions, corporate governance, shareholder agreements, commercial contracts, company incorporation and company secretarial services. Its lawyers are leading experts on all aspects of company litigation: amendment of objects clauses, winding up, shareholder-management disputes, minority protection, rectification of share register, reduction of share capital and sanction of mergers. It recently advised Marico Bangladesh Limited on the implications of the latest Act amending the Companies Act 1994 and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI) (the apex trade organisation in Bangladesh) on reform of the Companies Act 1994.
Banking, Finance, Microfinance and Securities: The firm specializes in bank loan and security documentation, loan syndication, restructuring, dishonor of cheque and broad spectrum of banking litigation. It has extensive regulatory experience on payment systems regulations, mobile financial services, money laundering and terrorist financing prevention laws. It provides strategic guidance to leading financial institutions through board membership. It recently advised an entity of Visa Inc. on payment systems and mobile financial services and DFID, Bangladesh on the legal framework for establishment of a Credit Information Bureau for Microfinance in Bangladesh. The Partners regularly represent the Bangladesh Bank and Pubali Bank (largest private commercial bank) before the Supreme Court.
Labour/Employment: The firm advises on a broad range of labour / employment issues including regulatory compliance, employment contracts, disputes, profit-sharing schemes, employee share schemes, benefits, personal data protection, termination, redundancies, etc. Its lawyers regularly appear before the labour tribunals and the Supreme Court in labour disputes. During the covid-19 pandemic, it advised a broad spectrum of clients on legal modes of severance and termination benefits under the Labour Act 2006. The firm successfully defended Biman Bangladesh Airlines in judicial review proceedings filed by thousands of employees challenging its Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS) of USD 50 million. The firm has recently advised Millennium Bangla Limited and Millennium Group of Companies, a leading player in the automobile industry of Bangladesh, on various labour and employment law issues that arose during the Covid-19 pandemic, including but not limited to, the legal modes of severance of workers and benefits owed to workers under the Labour Act, 2006.
Arbitration: The firm regularly handles complex commercial arbitrations, domestic and international, under, among others, the ICC, IATA, UNCITRAL, GAFTA and FOSFA Rules and the Arbitration Act 2001 (Bangladesh). Its lawyers act as both counsel and arbitrator. It has extensive experience in handling litigation arising out of arbitration (for interim relief, enforcement of arbitral award, setting aside of arbitral awards and appointment of arbitrators). It is currently representing the GSA of Gulf Air in enforcement proceedings filed by Gulf Air to enforce an ICC award. The firm is also representing ABB India Limited, a leading engineering company, in an international commercial arbitration against Power Grid Company of Bangladesh Limited (a government owned sole electric power transmission company) for imposition of liquidated damages.
Litigation: The firm has leading expertise in company litigation, judicial review of decisions of public authorities (writ petitions), litigation arising out of arbitration, banking litigation and public interest litigation. The partners have acted as lead counsels and amicus curiae in landmark cases before the Supreme Court. Its lawyers regularly appear before the full range of courts and tribunals for local conglomerates, MNCs, Bangladesh Bank, large private banks, financial institutions, eminent businessmen, etc. It recently advised Facebook on potential litigation relating to the extent to which the operations of Facebook in Bangladesh may fall within regulatory purview. It has led landmark cases at the Supreme Court level to enforce health rights. The Partners have led public interest litigation before the Supreme Court that led to the formulation of Guidelines for Emergency Medical Services for Road Accident Victims and Protection of Good Samaritans and Guidelines for Prevention of Medically Unnecessary C-sections.
Advertising Laws: The firm advises companies on advertising laws, with special focus on tobacco products and fast moving consumer goods (FMCG). Recently, it advised Marico Bangladesh Limited, which is among the top three FMCG MNCs in Bangladesh, on advertising laws and consumer offers. It advised British American Tobacco Bangladesh on permissible scope of trade promotional activities.
Anti-corruption and bribery: The firm regularly advises companies on anti-bribery laws in Bangladesh, including gifts, entertainment, hospitality, potential consequences of violations, etc. It advised Visa on the consistency of its internal anti-bribery policy with the laws of Bangladesh.
Education: The firm regularly advises private educational institutions including leading English medium schools following international curriculum on appropriate legal structure, registration, licensing, regulatory compliance, management disputes, day-to-day management issues, employment contracts, etc. It has successfully challenged the Government’s decision to shut down Lakehead Grammar School in judicial review proceedings before the Supreme Court.
Power: The firm has significant power regulatory expertise, regularly handles litigation challenging the decisions of the Bangladesh Energy Regulatory Commission (BERC) and makes representations to BERC on behalf of clients, drafts and negotiates complex EPC contracts, JVs on rental power projects, power purchase agreements and advices on licensing matters.
Telecommunications: The firm has significant telecom regulatory expertise, has advised a foreign company on proposed acquisition of passive telecom infrastructure of the second largest telecom company in Bangladesh, advised a local telecom company on acquisition of its shares by Egyptian telecom giant, Orascom, represented telecom clients in arbitrations arising out of complex contractual disputes, and in Supreme Court proceedings on frequency allocation disputes against the regulator.
Healthcare: The firm has unparalleled expertise on policies, laws, rules and regulations governing health care services in Bangladesh. The firm has led landmark cases at the Supreme Court level to enforce maternal health rights, and right of patients to emergency medical services. The partners have led a public interest litigation that led to a judgment proposing reform of the Human Organ Donation and Transplantation Act 1999 to expand the pool of organ donors to address the huge gap between demand and supply of organs in Bangladesh.
Hospitality: The firm has advised on all aspects of establishing and running a hotel, including drafting and negotiating hotel management contracts, construction management contracts, chain marketing agreements, gold passport agreements, trademark licence agreements, etc. The firm acted as retained advisers to Pan Pacific Sonargaon, the oldest five star hotel in Bangladesh, for over 20 years.
Insurance: The firm has significant insurance regulatory expertise and regularly represents insurance companies and insured persons in marine and shipping claims and litigation arising therefrom. The firm challenged, by way of judicial review, the vires of various sections of the Insurance Act on behalf of a leading insurance company, Delta Life Insurance, to remove categorisation of public and sponsor shares in Insurance companies as the Central Depository System, which requires shares to be converted into scrip-less/dematerialised form, does not allow recordation of categorised shares in demat form.
|Corporate and Commercial||Rashna Imamemail@example.com||+8801714136071|
|Corporate and Commercial||Faria Ahmadfirstname.lastname@example.org||+8801718420222|
|Corporate and Commercial||Reshad Imamemail@example.com||+8801755590736|
|Foreign Investment||Rashna Imamfirstname.lastname@example.org||+8801714136071|
|Foreign Investment||Faria Ahmademail@example.com||+8801718420222|
|Foreign Investment||Reshad Imamfirstname.lastname@example.org||+8801755590736|
|Labour and Employment||Rashna Imamemail@example.com||+8801714136071|
|Labour and Employment||Reshad Imamfirstname.lastname@example.org||+8801755590736|
|Banking, Finance and Securities||Rashna Imamemail@example.com||+8801714136071|
|Banking, Finance and Securities||Reshad Imamfirstname.lastname@example.org||+8801755590736|
|Constitutional and Administrative||Rashna Imamemail@example.com||+8801714136071|
|Constitutional and Administrative||Reshad Imamfirstname.lastname@example.org||+8801755590736|
|Human Rights||Rashna Imamemail@example.com||+8801714136071|
|Telecommunications and Technology||Rashna Imamfirstname.lastname@example.org||+8801714136071|
|Family (Divorce, Custody, Maintenance & Domestic Violence)||Rashna Imamemail@example.com||+8801714136071|
|Litigation (Appellate Division, Supreme Court))||Akhtar Imamfirstname.lastname@example.org||+8801711526454|
|Litigation (High Court Division, Supreme Court)||Rashna Imamemail@example.com||+8801714136071|
|Litigation (High Court Division, Supreme Court)||Reshad Imamfirstname.lastname@example.org||+8801755590736|
|Anti-bribery & Corruption||Rashna Imamemail@example.com||+8801714136071|
|Non-governmental organisations, societies and trusts||Rashna Imamfirstname.lastname@example.org||+8801714136071|
|Advertising Laws||Rashna Imamemail@example.com||+8801714136071|
|Darras Abdullah||Associate||View Profile|
|Faria Ahmad||Associate||View Profile|
|Jalil Akond||Associate||View Profile|
|Ms Rashna Imam||Managing Partner||View Profile|
|Reshad Imam||Partner||View Profile|
|Akhtar Imam||Senior Partner||View Profile|
|Moni Mohon Roy||Associate||View Profile|
|Khandakar Nilima Yasmin||Associate||View Profile|
Staff Figures: 12
LanguagesEnglish (fluent) Bengali
CLIENT: Mir Nadia Nivin, Team Leader, Governance and Institutional Reform
COMPANY/FIRM: United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Malaysia
TESTIMONIAL: Rashna was appointed by UNDP as an Independent Expert on Public Interest Litigation to the Federal Court of Malaysia. She delivered a key note lecture on it to the Malaysian Judiciary which was appreciated by all, including the then Chief Justice of Malaysia. I found her to be eloquent and very knowledgeable on every aspect of public interest litigation. She has to her credit a number of landmark judgments that shaped law and policy reform in Bangladesh, which is one of the reasons why she was chosen to deliver the key-note lecture.
CLIENT: Jasmeet Wadhera, Vice President – Legal, India and South Asia
TESTIMONIAL: Over the years, the firm has advised different entities of Visa on a range of issues including payment systems, mobile financial services and setting up of a liaison office in Bangladesh. They have excellent client support services, deep industry knowledge and extensive industry networks. Rashna is our main point of contact in the firm.
CLIENT: Suman Samanta, Operation Manager
COMPANY/FIRM: ABB India Limited, an international engineering company
TESTIMONIAL: The firm and its partners have unparalleled expertise in dispute resolution. We have always received realistic assurances about the fate of our cases before the Supreme Court and arbitration proceedings which helped us immensely in taking business decisions. They are very professional in their dealings with us and we always felt that they put our interest first. Mr. Akhtar Imam (Senior Partner) and Rashna (Managing Partner) makes a formidable team before the Supreme Court.
CLIENT: Affan Ahmed Sidddiqi, Litigation and Commercial Counsel (formerly)
COMPANY/FIRM: British American Tobacco Bangladesh (formerly); at present, Country Head of Legal in Standard Chartered Bank, Bangladesh
TESTIMONIAL: Akhtar Imam is a leading expert in corporate and commercial law. His opinions on legal issues carry a lot of weight in the legal fraternity and business circles in Bangladesh. The firm is one of the best firms in the country. They have always responded to our legal needs promptly. The solutions they offered to most of our legal problems were practical and tailored to the business environment in Bangladesh which we always found to be very useful.
CLIENT: Ishrat Jahan Nabila, Director HR, Legal and Compliance
COMPANY/FIRM: Chaldal Limited, a leading e-commerce platform in Bangladesh
TESTIMONIAL: The firm is our go-to firm for all corporate advisory work, regulatory advice and litigation (Supreme Court). They understand the changing needs of our industry and the pulse of our regulators. Our in-house counsels have benefited tremendously from the promptness with which the partners respond to queries, their deep industry insight and the sound legal footing of their advice. Mr. Akhtar Imam has represented us before the Appellate Division (Supreme Court) in various matters. It would be fair to say that he is one of the most respected legal minds in Bangladesh in litigation and company and commercial matters.
CLIENT: Sheikh Fazle Fahim, President (2019-2021)
COMPANY/FIRM: The Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), apex trade body in Bangladesh
TESTIMONIAL: The firm is one of the very best in corporate and commercial matters (advisory, litigation and arbitration). I have worked with Rashna Imam, the Managing Partner. She has substantive knowledge of company law, the law on trade organisations and labour and employment law. She is very responsiveness, both during business hours and otherwise. She always gave our matters a lot of personal attention despite her busy schedule. Till date we have received nothing but top quality legal service from her and her firm.
CLIENT: Zeyad Rahman, Director
COMPANY/FIRM: Delta Life Insurance Company Limited, one of the leading insurance companies in Bangladesh.
TESTIMONIAL: Reshad is my main point of contact for any legal issue. He has an exceptional ability to provide very detailed legal advice on complex legal issues at very short notice. He is also a tough litigator and has acted as my counsel in many cases before the Company Bench and other Benches of the High Court Division.
CLIENT: Pankaj Roy, Chairman
COMPANY/FIRM: Alliance Securities & Management Limited, a renowned stock brokerage house in Bangladesh
TESTIMONIAL: Reshad is a brilliant legal strategist. He has advised me over the years on various issues including corporate governance, company laws, judicial review, labour laws, banking laws etc. His advice has always stood me in good stead and was easy to understand. He has also represented me successfully in highly disputed Supreme Court cases to protect my rights as a minority shareholder, contempt petitions, and judicial review of orders of the Securities and Exchange Commission and has always managed to achieve the best possible results. I am confident that he will continue to excel further in the years to come.
CLIENT: Taifur Hossain, Managing Director
COMPANY/FIRM: GBB Power Limited, one of the leading power producers in Bangladesh.
TESTIMONIAL: Mr. Akhtar Imam is a very renowned Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court. He has successfully represented us in many cases before the Appellate Division of Bangladesh. He has earned an excellent reputation in the legal field for his legal acumen, integrity and dedication in delivering legal services. Reshad is a tough litigator. He has solid experience in arbitration and judicial review. The partners make a formidable team as one would expect from their impressive credentials gained home and abroad. The firm has my unqualified recommendation for any legal work within its areas of practice.
CLIENT: Shaker Shamim, Chief Financial Officer
COMPANY/FIRM: Globe Pharmaceuticals Group of Companies Limited, one of the largest diversified conglomerates in Bangladesh
TESTIMONIAL: The firm enjoys a much-deserved stellar reputation in Bangladesh. We rely on them for our most complicated legal problems or cases. I interact personally with both Mr. Akhtar Imam and Rashna. Mr. Imam is regarded as an institution in the legal field in Bangladesh, and that is the primary reason we first approached the firm many years back. We rely on Rashna for all international commercial arbitration proceedings, corporate and commercial matters. Her advice has always been prompt and thorough. Without a doubt she is one of the very best lawyers in corporate and commercial matters in Bangladesh.
CLIENT: Kaiser Chowdhury, Adviser
COMPANY/FIRM: Millennium Group of Companies, a leading player in the automotive industry in Bangladesh.
TESTIMONIAL: Mr. Akhtar Imam is easily one of the most respected Senior Advocates in the legal fraternity of Bangladesh. He stands out for the depth of his legal knowledge and his high ethical standards. I regularly work with Reshad. He is very good at providing simple legal solutions to complex problems. He is an expert in company and commercial matters, labour and employment laws, banking and finance. We found his legal advice on the different modes of severance of workers and their entitlement to benefits under our labour laws particularly useful during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
We are committed to attracting, retaining and advancing the careers of meritorious lawyers from diverse backgrounds reflective of the clients and communities we serve.
Given the low representation of women in the legal profession in Bangladesh, we are committed to advancing the visibility and success of women lawyers at our firm. Our commitment is evident from the fact that our Managing Partner is a woman, who started as an intern at the firm, and women comprise almost half of our workforce. We are very proud to be one of the very few leading law firms in Bangladesh that is led by a woman.
Our Managing Partner, Rashna Imam, acts as a mentor to young women lawyers through participation in different programmes. She was a Mentor in the programme, “Participation of Women in Establishing their Rights (PoWER)” of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST), a leading human rights organisation. The purpose of the programme was to conduct research on the barriers faced by women in the legal profession and mentor entry level women lawyers and law students so as to empower them to overcome such barriers.
We are very supportive of lawyers with family commitments, particularly new mothers, and offer reduced work schedule for proportional compensation and work-from-home options. This does not in any way affect their career advancement within the firm.
Our firm’s commitment to diversity and inclusion is not limited to the legal profession. Our Managing Partner, Rashna Imam has led a number of landmark public interest litigation (PIL), on a pro bono basis, to establish and enforce health rights of women and the poor and marginalized masses in Bangladesh. Her landmark cases in this regard include the PIL for formulation of guidelines for prevention of medically unnecessary C-sections in private and public hospitals in Bangladesh and the PIL for establishment of a legal framework for emergency medical services for road accident victims and protection of good Samaritans, both of which she filed on behalf of the leading NGO, BLAST, and the case leading to the judgment directing reform of the Human Organ Donation and Transplantation Act 1999 to expand the pool of kidney donors to reduce the gap between demand and supply of kidneys.
In view of her stellar public interest work, in 2018, she was selected, from over hundreds of nominees from around the globe, as one of the thirty-one Asia 21 Young Leaders. In 2019, she was chosen as a Fellow for the Global Programme for Women’s Leadership (GPWL), a joint initiative of Observer Research Foundation (ORF), a leading think tank in India, UK’s Department of International Development (DFID) and Vedica Scholars Programme for Women.
In addition, our Managing Partner is an advocate for women’s rights in general, and regularly appears in television and radio shows to speak on gender-based violence, rape law reform, barriers faced by Muslim mothers to custody and guardianship of children, etc.
We firmly believe that our firm’s diverse and inclusive atmosphere is essential to both the quality of the legal service we provide for our clients and the personal satisfaction of our lawyers and staff.
- Advised different entities of Visa Inc. on establishment of a liaison office in Bangladesh, the regulatory framework for mobile financial services and payment systems.
- Advised Facebook on the extent to which its operations in Bangladesh may fall within regulatory purview.
- Advised British American Tobacco Bangladesh (BATB) on tobacco products usage control laws, financial laws and scope of trade promotional activities.
- Advised Marico Bangladesh Limited on laws relating to advertising and consumer offers.
- Advised Department for International Development (DFID), Bangladesh on the regulatory framework in Bangladesh for the establishment of a Credit Information Bureau for Microfinance.
- Advised Ernst & Young, India on closure of its branch office in Bangladesh, formation of a fully-owned subsidiary company and foreign exchange control, regulatory and tax matters arising from that.
- Advised the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), the apex trade organisation in Bangladesh, on reform of the Companies Act 1994 to create an enabling business environment.
- Successfully defended Biman Bangladesh Airlines (national flag carrier airline) in multiple writ petitions filed by over 1000 employees challenging the legality of Biman’s Voluntary Retirement Scheme (VRS); Biman had taken loan for settling pension/gratuity dues of its employees who embraced the scheme to the tune of Tk. 4.19 billion.
- Representing ABB India Limited, a leading international engineering company, in an international commercial arbitration against Power Grid Company of Bangladesh Limited, government-owned sole electric power transmission company, challenging its imposition of liquidated damages on ABB for alleged violation of the contract for Design, Supply, Erection, Testing and Commissioning of 132KV Transmission Lines and Substations across Bangladesh.
- Representing Travel Trade Limited (exclusive General Sales Agency of Gulf Air) in ICC arbitration and court proceedings arising therefrom before the Supreme Court relating to contractual disputes over incentives and commissions to the tune of USD 63 million.
- Advised the Sonali Bank (largest state-owned commercial bank) on their legal obligations under international Letters of Credit following the Hallmark-Sonali Bank scam, the country’s biggest banking scam involving thousands of crores of taka.
- Advised the Bangladesh Bank (central bank) on many regulatory issues over the years and represented the central bank before the Supreme Court against other commercial banks over the extent of its regulatory control.
- Successfully represented the mother of a kidney patient in a public interest litigation that led to a judgment directing reform of the Human Organ Donation and Transplantation Act 1999.
- Successfully represented Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, a leading human rights organization in Bangladesh, in the landmark public interest litigation challenging the failure of the Government to prevent medically unnecessary caesarean sections in public and private hospitals in Bangladesh. The court ordered the formation of a multi-stakeholder committee to formulate guidelines to address the problem.
- Successfully represented Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust, a leading human rights organization in Bangladesh in the landmark public interest litigation that led to the formulation of Guidelines for Emergency Medical Services for Road Accident Victims and Protection of Good Samaritans.
Rashna Imam, Managing Partner & Reshad Imam, Partner
What do you see as the main points that differentiate [law firm name] from your competitors?
Based on client feedback over the years, what differentiates Akhtar Imam & Associates from other firms is the personal attention we, the Partners devote to each matter despite our busy schedules.
Our clients also benefit from the extensive networks we have created and the industry knowledge we have acquired over 40 years of law practice in Bangladesh. The firm was founded in 1980 by our Senior Partner, Akhtar Imam. He is now a Senior Advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh and regarded as one of the best legal minds in Bangladesh.
In addition, the wide range of legal services that we offer, make us a one-stop firm for our clients. Our firm is one of the very few firms in Bangladesh that excel in both corporate advisory work and dispute resolution (litigation and arbitration). Even though we do not specialize in criminal law, we have referral arrangements with leading criminal law firms to cater to the criminal law needs of our clients.
Last but definitely not the least, we have the experience of leading landmark constitutional law and company law cases and advising on multi-million-dollar Mergers and Acquisitions. We regularly drive law and policy reform through public interest litigation, advocacy and engagement with stakeholders at all levels of the Government, NGOs and private sector as evident from the wide media coverage our court cases enjoy.
Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?
We see our Mergers and Acquisitions, Fintech and Foreign Investment practices growing in the next 12 months.
M & A activity is steadily on the rise. 2017 saw major mergers in the power and telecommunication sectors. 2018 saw a major acquisition in the Tobacco industry. With many of the industries reaching saturation, consolidation through mergers and acquisitions is the next inevitable phase. We feel ideally suited to handle the workflow given our advisory role in various mergers and acquisitions over the years, including, acquisition of Sheba Telecom by the Egyptian Telecom Giant, Orascom to form Banglalink (one of the largest telecom operators in Bangladesh), proposed acquisition of the passive telecom infrastructure of the second largest telecom operator in Bangladesh, merger of the different entities of Marie Stopes International in Bangladesh, and our advisory role in the proposed acquisition of the tobacco business of Akij Group (one of the biggest conglomerates in Bangladesh) by one of the largest tobacco multinationals.
Bangladesh is currently moving towards a cashless society. The pandemic has further increased our reliance on cashless transactions. We have noted tremendous interest in the Bangladeshi market from foreign Fintech companies of late. In 2020 itself, we have set up a liaison office in Bangladesh for Visa Worldwide Singapore Private Limited (a concern of Visa Inc., a long-standing client of the firm) and incorporated several subsidiary companies in Bangladesh of foreign Fintech companies. We believe, this trend will continue over the next 12 months.
Bangladesh is the second fastest growing economy in South Asia. It is one of the few countries in the world that secured a positive GDP growth despite the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, we expect a continued flow of foreign investment into Bangladesh across diverse sectors, and given our expertise in legal and regulatory compliance issues relating to foreign investments, we expect our foreign investment practice to flourish.
What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?
We have started holding regular training sessions for all our associates and interns in order to build their capacities, expertise and industry knowledge to serve our corporate, finance, and dispute resolution clients better. These training sessions are conducted by the Partners themselves and customized to enhance the skills and expertise that are most in demand from our clients.
Although this is not a change that has been introduced recently, it is worth mentioning that we continuously update and add to our rich law library created over a span of 40 years. It is undoubtedly one of the best law firm libraries in Bangladesh and greatly enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of our legal research team which ultimately benefits our clients. We also subscribe to various online international legal databases to further enhance the efficiency and thoroughness of our legal research.
We have recently digitized Legal Knowledge Management to ensure that prior work produced and accumulated expertise gained over a period of 40 years are not lost and are easily accessible by all our lawyers when solving legal problems of clients.
Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?
The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased reliance on technology for all industries in Bangladesh. This is especially the case for the legal services industry. The first lockdown in Bangladesh was accompanied by a complete lockdown of justice for a month or so when the courts did not function at all.
Our Partners played an important part in the movement that led to the historic launch of virtual courts in Bangladesh. They spoke up in different social media platforms on the need for virtual courts and the need to train our lawyers, judges and court officials for smooth functioning of virtual courts. They actively engaged with members of the higher judiciary and UNDP Bangladesh (Bangladesh’s development partner in this regard) to make virtual courts a reality.
Our lawyers are all well versed in conducting virtual court proceedings and participating in virtual meetings and webinars. Despite the disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, we continued to and are still serving our clients through various virtual means. We believe that technology enabled legal services is here to stay in Bangladesh. Given massive traffic congestions in all metropolitan areas, virtual meetings with clients have proved to be much more cost effective over the course of the last year.
Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?
Our lawyers are trained to keep abreast of changes in the law and its practice. This has proved extremely beneficial for our retainer clients over the years. For example, recently we have helped a leading e-commerce platform (a long-standing client) avoid risk of criminal liability by advising them to take down a nationwide consumer offer they had launched in view of a recent High Court Judgment. Our client was unaware of their exposure to criminal liability and greatly appreciated our proactive approach which helped them avoid criminal liability, associated costs and reputational damage.
We also add value to the businesses of our corporate clients by helping them deal creatively and effectively with regulatory and compliance issues. This we do, not only by advising when instructed, but also by proactively holding highly interactive training sessions on corporate compliance, knowledge sharing sessions on desired or necessary areas of law or on implications of latest amendments to existing laws. Our clients have always found these sessions very useful in understanding their legal responsibilities, managing risk and lessening the impact of complex regulatory regimes on their transactions or day-to-day operations. We have recently held training sessions for a leading fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) multinational on Advertising Laws of Bangladesh to help them come up with legally compliant yet effective, from a marketing perspective, claims for their products.
Another way in which we add value to the businesses of our clients is through our deep and extensive industry networks. For example, recently we set up a liaison office for an international payments company (a long-standing client) in Bangladesh. Following that, when our client tried to open a bank account with a foreign bank in Bangladesh, they were told to produce a trade licence first, even though a liaison office does not need a trade licence (not being able to engage in any kind of commercial activity). When our client approached us for assistance, we leveraged our strong networks within the bank to resolve the issue expeditiously.
Our strong relationships with regulatory authorities and members of oversight agencies coupled with our equally reputed corporate and litigation practice enable us to give our clients, when advising them, a fully informed perspective.