India’s FoxMandal and Little & Co head to court over break-up

Attempts by Delhi and Kolkata-headquartered FoxMandal and Bombay’s Little & Co to rescue their 2006 merger have failed, ending up in India’s High Court.

FoxMandal managing partner Som Mandal filed a criminal petition against the management of Little & Co for cancelling the memorandum of understanding (MOU) that was the basis of the firms’ merger. Under the terms of the MOU a number of FoxMandal Delhi partners took ownership of 45 per cent of Little & Co’s equity, with the share rising to 50 per cent in 2009.

In December 2009, after Indian legal website LegallyIndia.com reported that FoxMandal Delhi was not able to pay the salaries of its lawyers and partners, Little & Co moved to cancel the MOU between the firms.

According to a report on LegallyIndia.com, the partners of Little & Co sent a letter to FoxMandal on 15 December 2009 outlining a number of complaints.

“We have sufficiently made it clear in our earlier mails that the public knowledge of the deteriorating financial position of FM-Delhi is gravely affecting the interest, goodwill and reputation of Little and is highly prejudicial to its interest,” said Little’s letter. “We have also clarified why FoxMandal Little should not be projected as a separate law firm with Little & Co, a part of it and why SM [Som Mandal] should stop projecting himself as the managing partner of FML.”

In early 2011 FoxMandal and Little & Co entered into formal arbitration in Mumbai under the MOU. Little’s lawyers are understood to have been Mumbai firm Federal & Rashmikant, while FoxMandal was represented by DH Law.

In May 2011 one of FoxMandal’s former partners, who left in the wake of the 2009 cash crunch, sued FoxMandal for recovery of allegedly unpaid dues.

Little & Co is one of India’s oldest law firms. It was established in Mumbai in 1846 as the main legal adviser to the East India Company. FoxMandal was founded in Kolkata in 1896.

A version of this article first appeared on LegallyIndia.com.