Dispute between Luthra, Saraf goes to court

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Mohit Saraf, L&L Partners, Rajiv Luthra,
Mohit Saraf (left) and Rajiv Luthra (right)

Mohit Saraf, a senior partner at L&L Partners, has taken Rajiv Luthra, the firm’s founder and managing partner, to Delhi High Court after the latter removed him from the firm. The partners are the two equity holders in the firm, with Luthra owning a majority stake.

On 16 October, Saraf had requested the court to stay Luthra’s email notice, dated 13 October, removing him from the firm, as well as asking to restore his access to the firm’s offices and other permissions.

As per court documents, Saraf’s office access was barred, with guards posted outside the Delhi office. In addition, he had lost access to his official email ID, and his name was removed from the management section of the website.

Delhi High Court is due to hear the parties on 6 November. The case is being heard by a single bench judge, Justice V Kameswar Rao. Saraf is being represented by senior advocate Arvind Nigam, while Luthra is being represented by senior advocates Abhishek Manu Singhvi and Neeraj Kishan Kaul.

The cause of the dispute between the two senior-most partners is reportedly a disagreement over how the firm’s equity is to be shared with other partners. Luthra declined to comment on the case as the matter was sub-judice.

“Mohit and I have shared a good relationship for over two decades, and the fact that we are at court is painful enough,” Luthra told India Business Law Journal. “Commenting or discussing it any further, and much more, publicly, only enhances the hurt. Despite everything, I wish Mohit only the best.”

Saraf declined to comment. The court initially directed them to participate in a mediation conducted by Sriram Panchu, a senior advocate. But the mediation efforts were unsuccessful and the counsel for the parties returned to court.

Both parties had indicated they were open to mediation, according to the court’s records. Saraf’s counsel said they were open to work out differences, but sought a status quo ante order from the court, i.e., a return to the previously existing state of affairs prior to the 13 October email notice.

The firm in 2018 had rebranded from Luthra & Luthra to L&L Partners to make it more representative of its partners. At the time, Saraf told India Business Law Journal: “The decision to change the name to L&L Partners was taken to represent and give each of our current and future partners their rightful place in the name of the firm.”