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Posted In: News Updates

Posted By: Singularity Legal

Tags: Dispute Resolution, Litigation Finance, Prateek Bagaria, Singularity Legal

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Construction Week interviews Prateek Bagaria on handling cross-border disputes and litigation finance in the Middle East

Singularity Legal, an India-based firm specialising in dispute resolution, has expanded its operations by opening a new office in Dubai. Established by Prateek Bagaria in 2017, the Asia-Africa focused international law firm is the first Indian firm to be Part-I registered solicitors at Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

Since its establishment, Singularity Legal has already handled more than $8 billion worth of high-value, complex cross-border disputes in various industries like energy and resources, construction and infrastructure, shipping and maritime, sports and entertainment, international trade and business, and private equity and finance.

The firm provides end-to-end dispute resolution services through a one-stop-shop model. Additionally, it maintains in-house advocacy capabilities and has access to a global network of allied services, including forensic investigation, accounting, data mining and discovery, expert witnesses, valuation and claim quantification, delay analysis, and litigation funding.

Construction Week Middle East spoke to Bagaria to learn more about his vision and long-term regional strategies.

Prateek Bagaria, partner at Singularity Legal
 

Can you share some insights about your expansion plan in the UAE?

PB: Singularity Legal has recently opened a new UAE office, representing a significant milestone in our expansion throughout the Middle East. Our aim is to provide clients in the region with cutting-edge dispute resolution services.

We believe that the Middle East is a market with tremendous potential, and we are committed to investing in the region, forging long-term relationships with our clients, and expanding our global footprint.

Singularity Legal’s focus on using technology to drive efficiency and effectiveness, combined with our expertise in international dispute resolution, enables us to provide clients with the highest quality legal services, and help them achieve their goals.

Our expansion in the Middle East is part of a broader strategy to serve clients in key regional markets, such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Israel, Turkey, and beyond. One competitive advantage of our firm is that we do not have to adhere to rates set by American or English headquarters while servicing the region. Additionally, for our lawyers involved in the practice, the region is a primary market rather than a secondary or tertiary market. This allows us to provide more affordable, superior, and faster solutions to clients’ disputes than our counterparts.

How will the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) lead to benefits and challenges in the business landscape?

PB: The DIFC is a hub for business and trade and is regarded as a priority centre for various entities such as Indian financial institutions, funds, family businesses, MNCs, trading houses, and others operating within the Asia-Africa corridor.

The primary objective of the CEPA between India and the UAE is to improve economic cooperation between the two countries across various sectors, including trade, services, investment, e-commerce, and intellectual property. Additionally, it aims to decrease or remove tariffs on a wide range of traded products, thereby facilitating increased trade.

While the CEPA brings about positive developments, such as the creation of new business opportunities and improved trade and investment deals, it is also possible that such deals may lead to disputes.

What current trends are you observing in the region, and how is your firm responding and adapting to these developments?

PB: The construction industry is a significant contributor to the economy of the Middle East, with numerous large-scale infrastructure projects currently underway. However, the sector is known for its high incidence of disputes, caused by delays in project completion, variations in contract terms, payment issues, and defective work. As the moratorium on the initiation of disputes related to the FIFA contracts comes to an end, we anticipate a surge of disputes in the region.

Likewise, major upstream and services contracts in the oil and gas industry often give rise to interesting commercial, investment, and construction disputes. These include disputes arising from global events that impact the cost of capital and supply chains, such as COVID-19, the Qatar blockade, the political situation in Afghanistan, and the Ukraine-Russia conflict.

Contractors facing these issues are often cash-strapped, having allocated the majority of their resources to completing projects. Singularity Legal is equipped to help clients not only by representing them in disputes but also by raising finance to enable them to pursue genuine claims that they may have been unable to pursue due to a lack of funds. In addition, our strong litigation finance practice is available to help clients reach a logical end to their disputes.

Can you provide an example of a high-value arbitration or litigation case your firm recently handled?

PB: We have represented numerous clients in high-value arbitrations and litigations across the globe under various ad hoc and institutional rules. For example, we recently represented a Qatari HNI in a $130 million DIAC arbitration under a settlement agreement for relinquishing his shares in a multinational oil and gas enterprise against his joint venture partner and a Cayman Islands group company. This dispute also involved parallel proceedings in courts of various jurisdictions such as the DIFC, Singapore, the Cayman Islands, the UK, and Switzerland. In addition, we have done several such multijurisdictional and complex projects in the oil and gas and construction space.

Would you be able to elaborate on your expertise with respect to litigation finance, and the associated risks?

PB: Since Singularity Legal’s inception, we have firmly focused on litigation finance. Our model helps clients pursue genuine claims that they would have been otherwise unable to pursue due to a lack of resources. We act as counsel on both the buy-side and the sell-side.

We have assisted funders in conducting diligence and independently assessing the merits of claims as well as their recoverability in various projects. For instance, we have assisted a global litigation funder in evaluating the merits of a portfolio of $1 billion concerning 10 mega infrastructure projects.

On the other hand, we also assist clients in raising finance for their disputes. For instance, we raised finance for a $1 billion-dollar dispute between our client against a state-owned entity.

Most importantly, litigation finance is non-recourse finance. If the client is unsuccessful in the dispute, they do not have to repay the funder. However, the client will usually retain the risk of paying adverse costs in such a situation. On the other hand, if the client succeeds, they will have to part with a certain percentage – usually between 10% and 30% – which is the funder’s uplift once the monies have been recovered.

Having been established in 2017 and exponentially growing over the last six years, how do you envision business success in the future?

PB: We are in the midst of a global economic turmoil. Amidst this, we anticipate a rise in disputes and a corresponding increase in demand for litigation finance to prosecute these claims.

Additionally, Singularity Legal also expects to see a surge in contentious bankruptcy work and enforcement of awards and judgments. Nevertheless, despite the challenging circumstances, we remain optimistic about the overall business atmosphere and anticipate further growth opportunities.

 

Source: Construction Week