India’s oldest British law firm returns to London after 152 years

By Dipankar De Sarkar, IANS

London : India’s oldest British-established law firm is now back in Britain.

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Fox Mandal and Little, India’s largest law firm that began life as Little & Co. in 1856, opened its London office Wednesday to offer India-specific legal services to British companies.

“The timing is just right,” said Som Mandal, a partner in the firm and the man who will be overseeing operations in London.

“More and more British companies are interested in India and are working in India. We will provide a one-stop service for all their legal queries,” he told IANS at a gala launch attended by hundreds of city lawyers in central London Tuesday night.

Fox Mandal was established in 1896 when John Fox, a British lawyer who ran a Kolkata-based firm offered a partnership to his employee Gokul Chandra Mandal, the great-grandfather of Som Mandal.

“Gokul Chandra trained under Fox but he was so good at his work that he was offered a partnership,” said his great-grandson.

The two men joined hands to create one of the first Indo-British business partnerships.

In May 2006, Fox Mandal merged with Little & Co. to establish India’s largest law firm.

The company boasts “an unparalleled legal tradition of being the legal advisor for the East India Company, the Government of India and the successive Governments of the Presidency of Bombay”.

Som Mandal said British firms with legal queries would no longer have to address these to unfamiliar firms in India.

“British law firms or lawyers employed by British companies don’t have to all the way to India. Instead we will provide the expert lawyers who will give real-time advice.”

With about dozen offices in India, the firm of advocates, solicitors and notaries comprises over 365 lawyers, close to 50 partners and over 175 para-legal staff – the perfect base from which to develop its business in Britain.

“A lot of British company lawyers may not be fully updated with changes in Indian law, which is where we come in. They still need people who know their Indian law.”

In addition, Mandal said, he was keen to develop the small and medium enterprises market.

“I find a lot of these small companies have no relationship in India,” Mandal said.