Harman has considerable experience in advising Indian and foreign companies in relation to a whole range of competition issues (both on the advisory side and in proceedings before the Competition Commission of India (CCI)), the High Courts and appellate bodies (the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal (NCLAT) and the Supreme Court of India). His experience spans a variety of sectors including telecoms, railways, steel, aviation, banking, natural resources (oil, coal, iron ore, etc.), pharmaceuticals, agro-chemicals, paper, construction, cement, tyres and fibres. His clients include ACC Limited and Ambuja Cements Limited, Baring Private Equity Asia, , Alstom, Agrium Inc., Praxair Inc., DuPont, Coal India Limited, Ballarpur Industries Limited, Oravel Stays (OYO) and Monsanto.
Harman has been involved in defending large multinational companies in high profile cartel enforcement cases including leniency matters, in the cement and tyre industries amongst others. Harman advised on the seminal CCI v. SAIL case, the first case under the Competition Act to be decided by the Supreme Court of India. He successfully defended Apollo Tyres in the tyre cartelisation case, Tata Chemicals in the soda ash cartelization matter and Visaka Industries in relation to alleged cartelization in the asbestos sheets sector. He has also acted for ACC (now a LafargeHolcim group company) in the cement cartel case, and for ACC and Ambuja Cement in relation to alleged bid rigging.
Harman has also represented clients in abuse of dominance cases. He has acted for Coal India (a state owned enterprise) on an abuse of dominance allegation in relation to the procurement of explosives, and is currently representing Coal India challenging abuse of dominance findings before the Supreme Court of India and the National Company Law Appellate Tribunal. Harman also represents Nissan Motors and has recently obtained a stay from the Supreme Court on the Order passed by the Competition Appellate Tribunal (the predecessor of the NCLAT against Nissan and other car manufacturers. He also acted for Vodafone India in the anti-competitive tie-in case involving the sale of Apple iPhones. More recently, Harman successfully defended the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation (ONGC) in relation to an alleged abuse of dominance case filed by the Indian National Ship Owner’s Association for imposing unfair terms and conditions in its vessel hire agreements. Harman also successfully defended OYO (the leading global hotel chain) against abuse of dominance allegations relating to unfair terms and conditions in its contractual arrangements.
Among his recent advisory work, Harman continues to represent the state-owned oil marketing companies on the important litigation regarding regulatory overlaps between the CCI and the Petroleum and Natural Gas Regulatory Board.
Harman also advises and delivers training to companies on compliance issues. He has conducted extensive competition compliance training for various clients including CNH Industrial, Lexis Nexis, the Tata Group of Companies. He has been instrumental in designing the compliance programme for ACC Limited and conducts regular trainings for the organization.
On the merger control side, Harman played an instrumental role in obtaining CCI approval in respect of the merger of Publicis Groupe and Omnicom Group. He advised and secured unconditional clearances for Nippon Steel Corporation in relation to its proposed merger with Sumitomo Metal Industries, Nestlé’s acquisition of Pfizer’s nutrition business, Mitsui’s acquisition of a stake in a pharmaceuticals company in India (the first merger control clearance in the pharmaceuticals sector in India) and GSK/Novartis in relation to their multi-step transaction involving vaccines, oncology and OTC businesses. He obtained conditional clearance in the Holcim/Lafarge transaction. Harman also represented Allergan in relation to its proposed transaction with Pfizer, Halliburton in relation to its proposed acquisition of Baker Hughes. , Baker Hughes in its merger with General Electric, DuPont in its merger with The Dow Chemical Company, Agrium’s merger with Potash Corporation, the merger between Praxair and Linde and, more recently, on the transaction between Alstom and Siemens in relation to their transport mobility business. More recently, Harman secured unconditional clearance for Saudi Aramco in relation to its acquisition of SABIC.
Harman has been acknowledged as a leading lawyer in Global Competition Review’s Who’s Who Legal of Competition Lawyers since 2011. Harman was described as “fabulous, highly intelligent and someone who provides great inputs on all his matters – I have great respect for him” by Chambers Global Guide 2013. Chambers and Partners 2016 stated, “Harman Sandhu is a rising star in the competition practice, who is widely recognised by peers. One interviewee characterises him as ‘a great guy – very intelligent and very hard-working’”. In 2018, Chambers and Partners recognised Harman as a notable practitioner, noted that he has a solid reputation and experience in cartelisation and abuse of dominance matters. Interviewees state that he “stands out as one of the most dynamic lawyers,” who is “pragmatic, very effective” and “solution-oriented.” More recently, for 2019, Chambers and Partners has noted that market sources are “very impressed with his capabilities” and he “comes up with the best advice” for industry-specific and multi-jurisdictional issues, and “stands out for his assured handling of the competition aspects of large, cross-border transactions”.
Harman has co-authored leading guides on the law of Dominance and Merger Control in India in the Getting the Deal Through series, which are key global reference materials for these areas of law. Harman also attended the International Competition Network Merger Workshop in Tokyo in November 2018 as an Indian NGA.
Before joining the Firm, Harman worked with the Office of Communications (UK) and the Directorate General of Competition in the European Commission – Cartels Division (Belgium), focusing on competition law issues.
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