Solicitors governing body: Pakistan Bar Council
Competition authority: Competition Commission of Pakistan
Financial regulator: Securities and Exchange Commission of Pakistan
IFLR1000 ranking categories for this jurisdiction:
Financial and corporate (published October) – Financial and corporate
The Pakistani legal system is influenced by English common law and is based on a much-amended 1973 constitution in addition to Islamic law. Much of the law and legal structures were preserved from the British colonial system, and the constitution is rooted in the Islamic tradition.
The country is often disturbed by unrest as the proscribed group Pakistani Taliban fights to urge the country to fully embrace its version of Islamic law.
Questions about legitimacy are exacerbated by inefficiency, delays, limited quality of legal training, corruption, and the lack of public credibility suffered by the judiciary, with large case backlogs, corruption, and a lack of resources.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to power in 2013 and pledged to legalise the group in an attempt to stop the fighting. He previously tried to introduce shariah (Islamic law) in the late 1990s just before he was toppled in a military coup.
The legal market is dominated by a handful of national firms including Amhurst Brown and Kabraji & Talibyddin that lead the way in corporate and commercial work. However, due to a lack of capacity in the local market, most of the larger, cross-border transactional work is handled from outside the jurisdiction.
Candy Chan - Journalist - Asia-Pacific
Active since 1997, Kabraji & Talibuddin is among the market-leading firms in Pakistan and excels in financial and corporate work.
The firm has a particular focus on M&A and projects work and significant experience in aviation financing. The firm maintains an office in Karachi.
Sectors of focus include aviation, entertainment and media, logistics, retail, healthcare, and energy.
The firm counts International Finance Corporation, TPG Global, China Development Bank, Commercial Bank of China and Bank of Communications among its clients.
During the research period,the firm was often active for financiers on project finance mandates. A highlight saw the firm advising the financiers on the first of its kind program to finance six wind power projects in Pakistan. An interesting deal on the M&A side saw the firm acting for IFC on its investment in Shifa International Hospitals.
Engro Vopak Terminal $40 million financing
International Finance Corporation $11.3 million investment in Shifa International Hospitals
Thar Coalfield block 1 mine
Full-service law firm Vellani & Vellani can trace back its roots to 1937. The firm has offices in Islamabad and Karachi. Key figures at the firm include senior partner Badaruddin Vellani.
Focusses / specialisms
Ranked among the top tier firms in Pakistan, Vellani & Vellani is known for banking, M&A and projects work.
While the firm’s banking team advises on matters such as syndicated loans, credit facilities and project financings, it also has expertise in Shariah-compliant structures including murabaha (cost-plus financing), istisna’a (Islamic project financing), ijara (capital leasing), musharakah (partnership finance) financings, and takaful (Islamic insurance) deals.
In M&A the firm advises on matters including joint ventures, mergers, acquisitions, demergers, spin-offs, divestments and franchises.
In the projects space, the firm has a particular focus on the oil and gas sector.
Research period review: 30th edition (2019/2020)
A banking highlight saw the firm advise the lenders on a significant project financing mandate.
The corporate team advised domestic and foreign clients on a range of matters, including restructuring, divestments, and acquisitions.
The firm also advised on the development of several confidential energy and oil and gas projects.