Ajar Rab who graduated from National Law School of India University in 2011.
After a year with Amarchand Mangaldas Suresh A. Shroff & Co, he went to Germany to pursue Master’s in Law and Business from Bucerius Law School and WHU-Otto Beisheim School of Management.
He comes from a family with a legal legacy in the State of Uttarakhand and is a Partner at Rab & Rab Associates LLP.
His work ranges from civil litigation, arbitration to corporate transactions. He enjoys teaching, training students for CLAT and is also a visiting faculty at NLSIU, Bangalore.
He is also pursuing his doctorate in International Commercial Arbitration under the supervision of the renowned arbitrator Prof. Dr. Stefan Kröll from Bucerius Germany.
In this interview conducted by Kunal Dey, Mr. Rab shares with us his insights on litigation practice in the State of Uttarakhand and about his newly authored book on RERA.
1. What is it like to practice in a place like Uttarakhand?
I think that the potential of smaller States and non-metros is frequently underestimated. It may be true that transaction deal value or exposure to cases with extremely high liability is limited, but the nature of work does not differ much from the metros. I enjoy my practice here.
There is so much to be learned and done, especially at the trial court level. Since the State is small, even authorities do not hesitate to approach you and discuss legal issues. Most importantly, at least to me, I get to relax and maintain a work-life balance, something my friends in the metros tell me they miss dearly.
2. You are also a visiting Faculty at NLSIU and other law schools, how do you keep up with academics and practice?
I have been teaching CLAT students for over 8 years now and was a teaching assistant at NLSIU. I enjoy teaching students. It gives a whole new perspective to practice. I consciously try to make time for pursuing my passion for teaching. I have my family and my associates to thank for filling in every time I am away for such opportunities.
I have been lucky to have been invited by many colleges to teach and take workshops. It’s always a learning experience. When office work is too much, I take online courses. Recently I took an online 2-month course on the basics of international commercial arbitration which received a very nice response and feedback.
3. You have currently drafted the moot problem of NLS International Arbitration Moot along with Gary Born and his team. Please share the experience.
I feel privileged and honoured that the problem has been reviewed by people like Steven Finizo, Jonathan Lim and Gary Born.
We had several rounds of discussions and changes to the problem.
They have amazing insights and observations. It is an experience I cherish and have gained from it immensely.
4. You have coached last years’ semi-finalist team of NLSIU at the Vis Vienna Moot. You have also judged Jessup, Manfred Lachs, and many other moots. What advice would you give to young mooters?
I think the most fundamental mistake made by students at moots is that they blindly sight precedents. Even in terms of their research, they only look for precedents and consider their work done. The objective of a moot is to present logical arguments based on the facts of the problem like one would do before a court or tribunal.
The arguments must be supported by the precedents and cannot be the precedent! For international competitions, students need to understand that there is difference between the common law and civil systems and cases are presented in each system. It is only under the common law system that the hearing is argumentative and may be slightly aggressive. Most teams lose points because of this.
The last thing is the attire. I have repeatedly heard judges and arbitrators complain about how casually a speaker was dressed or how the tie was hanging, and the hair was unkempt.
If you look sharp and professional, the bench already has a positive mindset about you.
5. Why author a book on the Real Estate Act, when you are pursuing a doctorate in international commercial arbitration?
My tryst with the Real Estate Act happened when I was invited by NUJS to be a part of the Industry-Academia Panel and teach online modules for their Diploma on Real Estate Law.
At the same time, I received an invitation from NUJS Law Review to write a paper for the journal.
Since my interest was primarily in arbitration and I had gone through the new Act for the online classes, I wrote a paper on the conflict of jurisdiction between the tribunal and the authorities under the new Act.
Having invested considerable time on it, it made sense to pursue various aspects of the new Act a bit further. My mom suggested I write a book, given the time I had already invested. I guess it just fell into place.
6. Tell us a bit about your book “Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act, 2016: A Practitioner’s Guide”.
The book is a section-wise commentary on the provisions of the newly enacted Real Estate Act. The endeavour was to make the book as comprehensive as possible.
Therefore, rules and cases of all States have been covered and compared. In fact, the publishing was delayed for several months because more and more States started notifying their rules.
I have attempted to anticipate many problems that would arise in the implementation of the Act and suggested solutions. Some of the problems are from real cases which I was handling at the time. I have tried to keep the language and content such that the book will be useful to everyone from the academia, practitioners, authorities and students.