Ravi Nath is recognised by Chambers, Euromoney, The Legal500 and others as a leading lawyer in India. He is the co-author and co-editor, with Berend Crans, of Aircraft Repossessions and Enforcement; and author of the India chapters of Aircraft Finance: Registration, Security and Enforcement and Aircraft Liens and Detention Rights. Ravi was the first Indian president of the Inter-Pacific Bar Association, and the first Indian chair of the IBA’s aviation committee.
What do you enjoy most about working in the legal industry?
I can’t think of any other profession that offers the ability to work on such a wide variety of situations and subjects, and allows you to develop and hone communication skills, both written and oral. In my later professional life, I have found it tremendously fulfilling, in addition to my work, to help shape budding lawyers both inside and outside my firm, and I have also taken a few tentative steps towards academia.
It gives me great satisfaction to give back to society in some small way. To be sure, this means long hours, and often lonely work, but that provides a sanctuary from the common humdrum of daily existence.
When I gaze back on the past few decades, I do so with a sense of great satisfaction and pride, as I see that several lawyers who have worked with me have established themselves well in the profession, and some have distinguished themselves.
What motivated you to pursue a career in aviation law?
Boys are passionate about cars and aeroplanes. So it was with me. Aviation law has its roots in shipping law. I trained in shipping law as an apprentice of a well-known London firm, and when India’s civil aviation market opened to private enterprise I was ready, and steadily rose to the top. I was invited to advise, write and speak on it, and authored/co-authored various books on the subject. Later this came to be one of the most important verticals of my firm.
Aviation law can be divided into finance and leasing; regulatory; and litigation. We practise across all three areas, and advise major industry players across the world – including practically all major banks, lessors, manufacturers and export agencies. We also advise the government of India, particularly on implementation of the Cape Town Convention.
How have you seen the aviation market in India develop since you first started practising?
About 30 years ago, India’s Civil Aviation market started opening up to private enterprise, and since then has grown rapidly. Now a large number of private carriers operate in India, as well as the government-owned Air India. This market is continuing to grow by more than 20 per cent year on year.
How does your government advisory work enhance your approach in private practice?
The government’s advisory work helps us to advise our clients better and avoid roadblocks or pitfalls.
What are the main challenges currently faced by aviation lawyers in India? How do you ensure the firm is well prepared to handle them?
While the law is clear, and we can advise on rights and obligations with certainty, matters do get held up in red tape sometimes. Recently, implementation of the newly enacted Indian Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code has left certain gaps. As we experience this we are able to keep our clients away from such situations, and advise them of difficulties well in advance so they can take corrective steps or other routes. A case in point is the Jet Airways, bankruptcy which is going through legal hoops as I write this.
As chairman and managing partner of the firm, what are your priorities for its development over the next five years?
To expand and deepen our areas of practice, for which we are well known; and to develop future partners who can build on and enhance the firm’s excellent reputation and rapport with clients, and keep up with the changing technology to deliver quicker advice on a real-time basis. We are also trying to bring better gender equality in the firm, although we are conscious of the strains that can be placed on women who choose to have children.
What is the best piece of career advice you have received?
There are no shortcuts. You must stick your nose in and sweat, but only if you enjoy what you are doing. Stand head and shoulders above the others and do the right thing.