This review was originally published in New Law Journal and can be accessed here.
I came to Zaiwalla’s biography Honour Bound assuming that like many lawyers’ biographies it would be a vanity work of cases won and lost, concentrating on the wins rather than the losses. For good or bad we often define ourselves in that way. There is certainly some of that and some name dropping but Zaiwalla’s practice has brought him into contact with many whose names are worth dropping, clients we might all wish for.
Zaiwalla, a Parsi, was born in Mumbai, coming to London with little or nothing to practise here in the mid-1970s. He trained at the then firm of Stocken but was already earnestly networking among the entrepreneurial Indian community leading him quickly to pick up the work of the Hinduja brothers. But it was in shipping that Zaiwalla based his practice, which has continued to this day. He started his own firm in 1982 and has never looked back. He’s still senior partner of Zaiwalla & Co with 10 or so fee earners that include his two children. The Hinduja connection opened many doors in politics and business, but as ever clients come and go and Zaiwalla’s networking led him from India to China to Iran, to Mongolia and most recently to Venezuela.
It is perhaps the racial prejudice that Zaiwalla felt in the courts that is the most poignant part of the work. He pursued an action for racial discrimination against a P&I Club supported by the Commission for Racial Equality but the CRE dropped the case just before trial. Zaiwalla writes of the prejudice he felt in both the City and the courts.
There is to me an inner theme in this work of boldness, a struggle against discrimination, fortitude against setbacks and an entrepreneurial spirit that has built a practice many would envy. I am reminded of that by two important decisions just before Christmas in the Court of Appeal and Supreme Court in which Zaiwalla & Co, a firm of just ten fee earners, acted for Air India and Banco Central de Venezuela respectively (Honour Bound: Adventures of an Indian Lawyer in the English Courts, Publisher: HarperCollins India, ISBN: 9789390351022, £17.99).