In 2013, India enacted one of the most robust private enforcement regimes for securities fraud violations in the world. Unlike in most other countries, Indian shareholders can now initiate securities fraud lawsuits on their own, represent all other defrauded shareholders unless those shareholders affirmatively opt out, and collect money damages for the entire class. The only thing missing is a better financing mechanism: unlike the United States, Canada, and Australia, India does not permit contingency fees, so class action lawyers cannot front the costs of litigation in exchange for collecting a percentage of what they recover. On the other hand, the 2013 law enacted a public financing regime for securities fraud class actions and it is possible third-party financing will be permitted; these mechanisms may make up some of the loss in effectiveness caused by the lack of contingency fees. It is still too early to tell.
Yet, commentators are very pessimistic that the Indian securities fraud class action will do much good because the Indian court system is glacially slow. For example, it takes over six years on average to resolve some civil appeals.
The solution to this problem in the 2013 law was to channel the securities fraud class action to a special tribunal, the National Company Litigation Tribunal (“NCLT”). Yet, this type of solution has been tried before in India: special tribunals tend to quickly take on the negative characteristics of the general courts. This may be why very few securities fraud lawsuits have been filed since the 2013 law was enacted.
We propose a different solution to the problem of the Indian court system: class arbitration. As we explain, although class arbitration is not perfect, it may better facilitate robust private enforcement than the Indian court system.
Brian T. Fitzpatrick and Randall S. Thomas,
The Indian Securities Fraud Class Action: Is Class Arbitration the Answer?,
Nw. J. Int'l L. & Bus.