Wednesday, December 25, 2013

2013: Merry Christmas and Happy New Year

It's been a whirlwind 2013 for me and for Axess Legal Corp. The first quarter picked up pace in March 2013. In fact, there were days and nights that the entire team worked without a pause. Difficult to forget the night when clients unexpectedly turned up with an emergency situation and I missed attending my son's seventh birthday celebrations and returned home at about 1 AM. 
This is my seven year old - Jyotiraditya. (Secret: He wants to change his name to Sanand Junior as soon as possible!]

Coming back to 2013, the year has been mostly good, particularly after August. Of course, there is always a tossing in of a few surprises here and there. But it's been a positive journey so far for Rajeev & me as we worked towards expanding our areas of legal expertise and experience. Somewhat, pushing the envelope and testing new waters, you could say.
Though the courts are closed since last week, the office is busy and running with several client meetings and trips scheduled in advance. We have good support staff with a strong client focus - a HUGE advantage for any budding law firm. And the good news is that the pace of work is increasing as we head to the New Year - a good sign for lawyers like me who aren't bullishly into marketing a law firm over the Internet. 
What has 2013 been like for you? What are your New Year resolutions for 2014? Do drop by and share your thoughts. Who knows - you may inspire me to contemplate and commit to some serious New Year resolutions.

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Parenting Quotes: Having a child should be fun

You are looking at a moment when my son and I passed by the village areas behind the Fort Kochi backwaters. The place is surrounded by small homes parked right in front of the sea. Boats, fishing nets and other fishing equipments are clustered around the area. We stopped the car - my son and I - because the crashing waves caught our interest as did the fishing nets. I let my son play among the wild waves for a few minutes. Tossing, turning and catapulting. Kids know how to loosen up and have fun. They teach us to have fun too.

Sharing a quote here: To be in your children’s memories tomorrow, you have to be in their lives today ~ Anonymous

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Festive Season, Amritsar's Dhaba Food

Diwali's just got over. Hope all of you had a festive start to November. It's the month of festivals, holidays and for me, lots of traveling. The year 2013 didn't bring me too many tours but startlingly towards the end, it looks like I will be traveling a lot more frequently all the way till May 2014. Exciting challenges ahead for the entire team at Axess Legal Corp, lots of work coming up for us and many meetings to attend.

Flip side is this: Will be frequently away from home and especially from my son, who finds it very difficult (and vice versa) when I am not around to play cricket and other rough games with him. He's at that age when he wants to act like a man and idolizes all that I do. It's tough every time to leave him behind but there's no greater satisfaction than seeing his eyes light up with absolute joy when he sees that I am back home. Till the next weekend, that is! 

Travel, for me, is more like a culture and food trail. Amritsar is perfect for this. Here's one delicious Amritsar dhaba thali that I quite enjoyed.

What's the festive season been like for you? Are you all set to ring in 2014? Tell me about it...or better still, lets trade New Year resolutions next!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Free Legal Advice on Credit Cards: Are you liable to pay for your bank's mistake?

If you use credit cards for your transactions, this free legal advice may be useful to you.  Recently, a young IT professional came to me with a query regarding credit cards. He was issued a credit card by Bank X and a sum of Rs 8,000 was wrongly debited against the said card. Immediately, he informed the bank and the bank promised to reverse the debit. Following this mix up, he stopped using the card. So far, the story runs smooth. 

Here comes the glitch. Two years down the lane, he receives a credit card statement for Rs.32,000! He sought the bank's assistance to get the full credit card statement to understand how this happened, given that he hadn't used the credit card since the mix-up he had reported officially to the bank. 

Free Legal Advice for using Credit Cards

What's the way forward? Keep these simple legal tips in mind while using credit cards:

1.  If a wrong debit has been reversed as per the Bank's communication to the customer, the bank should have reversed the interest as well as other charges that was levied on the first amount. 

2. The important thing is that the customer should have conducted an immediate follow up to get a detailed statement of the reversal of charges. 

3. Simply not using the credit card was not enough - that didn't help, did it? Besides, where's the legal closure that one needs to show in terms of proof of communication and subsequent action from the bank?

Free Legal Advice: How to leverage Code of Bank's Commitment to the Customer 

 As a customer who feels wronged, the first point of contact is the bank's nodal officer whereby one can explain what happened and request the mistake to be rectified. If required, you have to go through the provisions of  The Code of Bank's Commitment to the Customer. This Code specifically states that it will provide a credit card statement to the card holder every month free of cost at the mailing address as per the bank's records. It also states that in the event of non-receipt of information, the bank will resend the details when a request is received from the card holder. 

Free Legal Advice: How to send copy of communication to RBI Customer Service Dept

In writing, bring this to the notice of the bank and send a copy of your communication with the timeline and details to the customer service department of the Reserve Bank of India. If you receive no reply or follow up, you can directly file a complaint with the Banking Ombudsman in your state. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Places to shop in Kochi: Nucleus Mall in Maradu

My son and I like to spend time in Nucleus Mall, which is in Maradu, Kochi. The mall is very clean, attracts a decent crowd of college going students, families and kids. You can find some good retail shops like Max here and the surprise factor is this: the clothes range for men and kids is far better than the Max shop in Delhi. If you are looking to buy gifts for your family members, this is a good place to check out. 

Other attractions of Nucleus Mall include the well- managed Food Court with a free play zone area for kids, a DC books showroom that is a must-visit space for those of you who enjoy reading good quality books be it fiction or non fiction and last but perhaps the most important one, don't miss the 6 D movie center that plays 3 to 12 minute short movies. The overall effect and feel of these movies are fantastic. You are sure to enjoy the unexpected surprises that come your way as you watch the films.

Which is your favorite place in the city where you like to chill out with your family and simply have a good time? Write in:)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Eating out in Fort Kochi: Good times are back!

OK, so we are waiting for our food to be placed on the table. 

Once upon a time, having food on the table meant everything. It was a sign of abundance, of having survived and triumphed against the odds. But now, that has changed. More than water or food, we are dependent on gadgets such as our cell phones, tablets, etc for our survival and children are no exception. 

Fact of life as you can see below: In fact, ask any parent. Kids are the new generation experts on gadgets!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Eating out in Fort Kochi: Oceanos offers plenty of tasty treats

Summer vacation is when I head out with my family to Kerala. Here comes the best part: eating out in Fort Kochi. We enjoyed the monsoons to the fullest, took risks by heading out to the beaches when it rained hard and the waves crashed on to the shore. My seven year old loved every moment of this, so did I.

After a full day of sight seeing around Fort Kochi, we stepped into this restaurant called Oceanos at about three o clock noon. It was warm, inviting and we plonked ourselves into its cozy atmosphere at once.

Oceanos has some awards to its credit too. It has many tourists and travelers dropping in. This was our first experience there and we enjoyed the relaxing, homely atmosphere there.

Where did you go during this summer vacation? How did you enjoy it? Do drop a line and keep me posted.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Free Legal Advice on Indian Disability Laws

Legal experts and eminent jurists have often pointed out to a glaring void in the Indian Constitution, which we all view as the most comprehensive and voluminous among constitutions of the world. Are you wondering what it is?

The glaring miss is that the Indian Constitution did not incorporate provisions that are specific and necessary for the education and rehabilitation of disabled persons in India.

As per the report of the National Sample Survey Organization 2002 on 'Disabled Persons in India,' 55% persons with disabilities were illiterate. In a democratic country like India, this is an unacceptable fact and a glaring social lapse. 

While eminent social and legal activists have called upon the need for mainstreaming disabled children into the general education system in India, we still have far to go before it can be a reality. Inclusive education remains more of a vision on whitepapers and a top agenda on school board meetings but very few educational institutions in the country move forward on implementing this.

The following are some of the disability related laws in India:

The Mental Health Act 1987
This law pertains to the treatment and care of mentally ill persons, to make better provision with respect to their property and affairs and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

The Rehabilitation Council Act of India (RCI, 1992)
This disability related law provides for the constitution of the Rehabilitation Council of India for regulating the training of rehab professionals and also for maintaining a Central Rehabilitation Register and other related issues.

The Persons with Disabilities (Equal Opportunities, Full Participation and Protection Rights) Act of 1995
This disability related law stipulates to set up a Central Coordination Committee and a Central Executive Committee at the national level, besides other things such as appointment of various functionaries throughout different states to ensure implementation of its provisions.

The National Trust (For Welfare of Persons with Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Mental Retardation and Multiple Disabilities) Act 1999
This Trust aims to provide total care to persons who suffer from mental retardation, cerebral palsy and autism. The Trust supports programmes that promotes the independence and addresses the concern of special persons who have no means of family support. 

What are your thoughts on India's disability laws? Are they effective or toothtless? What social or legal initiatives can help us move forward on its implementations? Are there any interesting case laws from across the world that we can take inspiration from?

It would be great to hear your thoughts on this. Do write in to me. 

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Bank Savings Account: What happens when it is inactive

This is a query that I get a lot from frustrated bank customers. Complaints range from "I have balance in my savings account but suddenly the bank made it inoperative" to "I never took a rupee from my savings account, how dare the bank make it inactive and now I cannot take a single paisa from it?"

Lets go through some basic facts relating to bank savings accounts and the laws that concern them:

1.As per RBI guidelines for both current and savings accounts, these are treated as inoperative if no transaction is conducted in a span of two years. In such cases, cheque book request, address change or ATM debit/credit card renewal will not be facilitated or activated by the bank.

2. Suppose a customer changed location, that will not make his savings account inoperative per se. All he needs to do is to contact his bank, provide the account details of his new bank account and get the balance transferred. The typical practice is to make sure that due diligence is conducted by the bank before facilitating the needful.

3. Even after a savings account turns inoperative, the interest will be credited to the said account on a regular basis. 

4. To start with, you have to act swiftly, write to the bank and ask for a written response as to why your savings bank account has been rendered inactive. The earlier you initiate the communication process, the better it is to build your case.

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Free Legal Advice: What to do when your credit card statement is wrongfully inflated?

Do you use credit cards for your transactions? Here's some free legal advice: The interest on credit card rate is very high especially in India. Why? Because it is treated as the most costly form of debt. 

Free Legal Advice: What to do when your credit card statement is wrongfully inflated?

 If your credit card purchase statement is showing additional expenses that you are very sure you did not incur, you must take immediate action. Approach the credit card provider. Explain about the additional expenses. Show bills to prove excess if you have the disciplined habit of carefully filing all your monthly credit card bills. If the bank is convinced, they will do the needful. Make sure you tell them to send it in writing so that later, they can't turn around and say it's your imagination. Remember, when you are the debtor, you cannot legally go against the bank without sufficient proof.

Free Legal Advice: What to do when recovery agents harass you

There have been several cases in India that show how banks that issue credit cards send recovery agents to harass debtors at workplaces and to their homes to pressurize them to pay up. As per the latest RBI norms, such banks (if proven guilty of doing so) will be heavily penalized.

Course of action: If you have been harassed, insulted or you suffered mental agony because of recovery agents, you should immediately complain to the bank's nodal office in writing. Keep a copy for yourself. If there is no response for over a month, you should directly complain to the Banking Ombudsman in your area. Enclose proof of the first letter you wrote to the bank's nodal officer.

Credit card usage is increasing, so are related legal problems. Do you find these free legal tips helpful? I sure hope so!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Happy Holi 2013

Hi friends, it's been a very long time since I wrote a blog post here. There's been so much happening at Axess Legal Corp that I have not had time to sit down and write a good post. So, I thought to myself the least I can do is to update you on what's been happening at my end.

Here's what's been happening: 
  1. My son Jyotiraditya turned 7 in March 2013. He had two Wenger cakes - one a Spidey face and the other with the number 7 on it. He had a great time celebrating it with friends.
  2.  Axess Legal Corp had a great start right from 2013 and the going gets better. We hope to continue the good work that we are doing. Thank you all for the encouragement and support you've been sending out to ALC.
  3. After a long time, I am taking a week off and going off to have some time off on my own to Bangalore. My nieces Aditi and Neha turn one this week and I don't want to miss the fun celebrating with the twins on their special D-day. Went shopping to buy them dresses - this was an interesting experience as I haven't had to shop for little girls before. But it was fun.  

Wishing everyone a very Happy Holi in advance! Enjoy with your loved ones!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Free legal advice: Employee can be fired for working during breaks

Recently, I was fascinated by a decision by the Ontario Human Rights Tribunal. An employee as dismissed for working through her break.  Doesn't this sound ridiculous? 

So lets break down the facts to understand it better. 

A sales person who has won numerous awards was given a 'final' warning in writing on account of her abrupt behavior with co-workers and for working beyond her usual hours. This implies that she would skip her breaks by coming back to the shop floor to work. Following this warning, she filed a complaint alleging that she was being given adverse treatment on racial grounds. Even before a hearing was held to look into her complaint, she was terminated. 

In this particular case, the employer's stance is that it has a right to fire an employee for working through a break. Legal issue that rose was: Did the employer fire the employee in retaliation for the complaint she had filed? 

Interestingly, the tribunal agreed with this point raised by the employer and held that the real reason of the dismissal was not a retaliation of any sort.

You can refer to this case in detail here.  

This decision raises several questions. Why should the employers be held liable as per Canada's laws for work that is performed by an employee during break hour? Is this legal approach justified? Does it protect the rights of all stake holders? What is its real objective? Obviously, it puts pressure on employers and adds a severe risk of dismissal to employees who want to work beyond the prescribed hours?

It would be interesting to know your thoughts on this Canada law decision. 

Monday, January 7, 2013

Canada's most famous case in 2012: Can you claim planets as your property?

In 2012, Canada's most-talked about case was that of Sylvio Langevin [refer to 2012 QCCS 613 (CanLII)] who claimed the Earth and other planets such as Mercury, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus as his property. This report states that the case had been referred to more than 19,000 times. 

Here comes the funny bit. Langevin was too late to claim the 'Sun' as property because a Spanish woman had done so already! 

Given the peculiar claim, the applicant has been barred from filing further claims. This doesn't surprise me at all. 

What's the weirdest case you have ever read about? It would be fun to know.