What We Do
Our Legal Practices
THS & Co has a growing practice in tax, covering all areas especially income, excise and sales tax. The firm benefits from not just having legal experts, but practitioners who have worked for many years with the Federal Bureau of Revenue. Hence, we can assist in tax-planning as well as responding to show causes and pleading defenses on behalf of clients.
In an environment, where the government is chasing revenues, businesses find themselves always being approached by the revenue authorities to justify their transactions. This becomes, even more challenging where the number of tax payers is low, hence the genuine taxpayers on many occasions find themselves being viewed with suspicion. Tax management is the number one issue faced by businesses, and this field is always evolving. Clear understanding and interpretation of tax laws from the outset is a must for all.
THS & Co can assist at any stage, tax planning, management, advisory work, responding to show causes and evening pleading on behalf of clients in front of quasi-judicial or judicial forums.
The government issued its policy on de-regulation of the telecommunication sector in 2003, which facilitated an exponential growth in the industry, with several international players entering the market. As result, there are now currently over 125 million subscribers in Pakistan and growing each day using 2G, 3G and 4G services, while 5G is being tested. The government views this sector has an important tool for economic growth as well as social development.
The Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) is busy coming up with new laws and regulations as new technology and products enter the market. Thus, there is constant need to understand and interpret the laws, especially due to the lack of understanding of the many technology and tools be deployed by the industry. THS & Co is very proud of the fact it is on the legal panel of the two biggest players in the telecommunication market, while having several other minor players as clients
The Spectrum being recognized as a ‘scarce’ resource, creates severe competition for its allocation and as a result has generated significant revenues for the government from the licence auctions of bands of the spectrum. Auctions and renewal of licenses has become a highly contested area between the industry players and PTA.
THS & Co can assist in licence related issues, regulations, telecom related litigation, as well as tax issues. We also have considerable know-how in engaging with regulators for the development of policies as well as regulations.
The advancement in the digital technological field is creating new challenges for the industry and the regulators as they race to keep up pace with governance and tax related issues. Regulators in developed countries are struggling to supervise internet-based commerce, which have thrown new challenges in an ecosystem, where borders seem to have disappeared, raising complex jurisdictional legal issues. The old established legal principles are being stretched to apply to new factual problems, which were never contemplated. The learning curve for an emerging market like Pakistan are even more acute.
Use and transfer of personal data by software applications are rising data protection issues, which have not yet been addressed directly, even though draconian cybercrime laws have been enacted. The challenges to protecting consumers against fraud on the internet is causing the regulators much concern as well as compliance issues. For example, as e-payment system are becoming a norm, Pakistan is struggling with designing and implementing effective anti-money laundering laws. It is imperative that industry and the government work in good faith with each other and address mutual concerns. Consequently, the industry has to justify its objectives and engage in a constructive manner with the government to develop effective policies and regulations. THS & Co with its immense experience in developing necessary and effective narrative to engage with regulators can assist in delivering the right messages, as well as drafting of apt regulations.
The government has announced an E-commerce policy to drive E-businesses, while everyone struggles to understand how this works. Nevertheless, there has been an array of legislation to cover the digital world to deal with cyber-crime, electronic signatures etc. It is imperative that start-ups and new entrants fully appreciate the legal framework within which they must work. THS & Co has been working with start-ups for the last several years in advising and developing policies, terms and conditions for their businesses.
As major scandals have erupted globally due to various compliance breaches involving issues like corruption, money laundering and sanction breaches, the regulators like the Department of Justice (USA) and Serious Fraud Office (UK) have become more vigilant and aggressive in acting against the breaching companies. Examples of such cases are the Rolls Royce and Siemen bribery scandals. Hence, it is imperative that businesses upskill their knowledge and know-how in the compliance area. It is imperative requisite due diligence procedure are put in place to avoid even accidental breaches.
THS & Co can provide requisite guidance and assistance, including tailored training and develop compliance awareness programs, to assist in mitigating the risks and developing the necessary defenses to deal with any unforeseen breaches.
The areas, specifically to compliance, where THS & Co can help are as follows: –
- Corruption– Under Pakistan Laws the main legislation to focus on would be the National Accountability Ordinance 1999, the Prevention of Corruption Act 1947 and the Pakistan Penal Code, while on the international level the legislation varies from country to country but the two main instruments in discussion these days are the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act 1977 (USA) and the Bribery Act 2010 (UK). It is important to appreciate that the UK Bribery Act has made facilitation payments (sometime known as ‘grease payments’) under most circumstances unlawful, unlike most other legislations which only deal with bribery. Many of the laws in this area, have extra-jurisdictional effect.
- Codes of Conduct– Every organization should set an ethical and moral standard of behavior which it expects its employees to adhere to. This requirement has been made part of the Code on Corporate Governance of Pakistan as well. The codes vary from business to business; however, the essence remains the same and would usually cover requirements such as receiving and giving of gifts, harassment policy, insider dealing, entertainment and donation policies and now days more and more a whistleblowing policy and process. THS & Co can assist in designing the right code for your organization and ensure via training, the right awareness and understanding of the contents of such codes.
- Sanctions– Sanctions have been increasingly used for many purposes, but mainly to pressurize any country or regime to change in the way it conducts itself in the international arena like terrorist financing. There are various types of sanctions such as asset freezes, travel bans, trade embargoes and other restrictions. Thus, there are plethora of sanctions in the field against various countries and specific individuals, for example the recent additional sanctions by the USA on Iran. Thus, it is imperative for business to carry out the necessary due diligence to avoid even accidently breaking any given sanctions.
- Date Protection – It’s important for organizations to understand their legal obligations in managing personal information of employees. THS & Co can assist in designing processes to collect and manage such information. how and where they collect personal data of employees and for what purpose.
The firm has several partners, who have for over 16 years focused on employment and labour and hence developed a formidable practice in this area. The firm has acted for clients at all levels from negotiating CBA agreements, dealing with strikes, in front of labour courts and NIRC as well as representing clients in front of High Court. The firm possesses the ability to assist clients in negotiating disputes with unions as well as employees. Furthermore, the firm has helped clients develop internal HR processes as well as policy manuals and draft employment contracts.
Our liaison office also has a Partner who specializes in employment and labour law, which means we have reach across the country and provide speedy assistance, when required.
Every business is subjected to supervision by various regulatory bodies, which continue to churn our new regulations to deal with changing circumstances. There are regulations dealing with the environment, health and safety issues, which are applicable across the industry. Then there are specific industry regulations. THS & Co has a thriving regulatory practice, with experts who have worked closely with various regulators such as SECP, Pakistan Stock Exchange, Competition Commission of Pakistan etc. and some of them have practical experience of being regulators themselves in the past. This allows the firm to advise on any problem from all perspectives.
THS & Co has access to the leading litigators in Pakistan in all areas of the law, as well as being part of our network. THS & Co itself specializes in constitutional, tax, labour law and regulatory litigation.
Management of Litigation
One area which nearly all organizations outsource is litigation. As litigation usually involve issues of reputation or large financial amounts, it is felt this risk should be outsourced to specialists. However, what is important for businesses is to ensure that the best litigation strategy is employed, they understand the issues at stake and are continuously kept abreast of what is happening at every stage of the litigation process. We all know litigation is a long stretched out process, stemming sometimes over many years, hence keeping track can be difficult.
THS & Co provides services to work intimately with the business managers to advise on the issues before litigation starts, then assist in selection of the right advocate for the case, work closely to ensure right strategy is devised for the case and then continuously monitor all the hearings and provide a regular report to ensure the client is aware all the time what is happening. We have a network of renowned lawyers with whom we work to ensure the best services at the lowest fees and this service is also available if required.
It is recognized running a fully resourced inhouse legal department can be a very expensive venture, thus there is always a desire to limit the expenditure in research tools and administrative support. However, using ‘value for scale’ model THS & Co has resourced itself to assist inhouse departments filling this gap. For example, instead of the inhouse legal department having a fully update legal library, which requires expenditure, space and updating, THS &Co can conduct the research on any topic on behalf of the inhouse counsel – thus saving money and time. By THS & Co offering this service to various clients it can keep the cost down for inhouse functions.
As the legal framework is being designed by government and regulators, its essential the views of the specific industry are heard at the right time, to ensure before becoming law, the input of all stakeholders has been taken into consideration.
THS & Co has considerable experience in engaging on behalf of industry on vital issues with government and regulators, by applying what is known as “campaign plan” approach. This is a tried and tested 360-degree plan, which aims to educate and create awareness amongst all stakeholders who would be interested in the subject at hand. In any engagement, it is essential to develop clear and simple messages, which can be effectively articulated and address the concerns of all stakeholders concerned with the subject. These messages have to be delivered to all decision-makers and influencers at the right time and with the right emphasis.
The campaign approach is not restricted by the subject matter nor to any industry. Hence, this has been successfully be applied by THS & Co for its clients which face new adverse regulations and general tax related issues. THS & Co can assist in creating the narrative, developing policies and delivering the messages in a holistic manner via the utilization of various media platforms, including one to one engagement with decision-makers and influencers.
The firm has worked on many corporate and company secretarial issues and has a good working relationship with regulators such SECP, Pakistan Stock Exchange and Competition Commission of Pakistan. This has enabled us to assist clients in resolving issues with the utmost sense of urgency as well as seek clarity on regulatory issues. The firm has worked on a $40m rights issue for one its clients, as well has setting up an area structure for a leading global FMCG.
We also assist organizations to set up corporate structures for taxation as well as business efficiencies, or persons who are setting up business for the first time. We have helped NGO set up for their intended purposes, helping them through each step.
The firm is able to provide company secretarial support on an-going basis to remove the burden from internal staff as well as to ensure diligent compliance.
The firm has vast experience in negotiating and drafting documentation on complicated business transactions, including loan agreements, distributions agreements, sale and purchase transactions, share agreements, etc. We can further assist in designing optimal structures for transactions whether it’s for tax optimization or security related reasons.
The firm is proud to state that we are one of a few firms who have extensive experience in aircraft and asset finance. The experience covers, plain vanilla loan mortgage asset sale, a simple finance lease and the more complicated leases such as Japanese, German Leverage leases and other tax optimization structures.
The firm has worked on several project financing, mainly power related.
Patents and trademarks are the most valued assets of any business and these needed to be protected at all times. This requires making sure that the concerned intellectual property is registered at the earliest to announce your right and at the same time making sure attributes of the property are properly documented and registered. We make sure we work closely with the clients to understand and explain what should be registered and we move with the necessary speed to get your intellectual property registered.
Once registered, unscrupulous elements of society are there to take wrongful benefit and under such circumstances, the owner has to move immediately to protect his interest. We have developed a capability to assist clients in getting stay orders while applications are moved to prevent the breaches.
The firm has vast experience working on banking and corporate financing issues for clients such as: –
- Overdraft facilities;
- Simple and syndicated Loans;
- Finance Leases;
- Capital markets
The firm possesses significant experience in creating the right security structures for financing having worked on major asset and project financing, with considerable experience in aircraft financing experience.
One of our partners has worked on major international export financing transactions related to the sales of Airbus aircrafts as well as financing of power and road projects.