In 2017, Namita Shah Co-founded Mumbai-based Presolv360, an online alternative to traditional dispute resolution systems. In this interview with Asia Law Portal, she explains Presolv360’s services offer and details her extensive involvement in the ongoing expansion of legal technology and legal innovation in India.
You’re Co-Founder of Presolv360. Tell us more about what inspired you to found the company and what its focus is.
In India, it is said that litigation isn’t only a legal issue anymore, it is a legacy issue, passed on from one generation to another. Whilst I had heard this time and again, the reality of it truly hit me when a Supreme Court Judge said to one of my co-founders, “Son, your father instituted this litigation and your child will have to conclude it.”
This statement struck our heads like lightning, causing some fuses to go off, and we started toying with the idea of finding a more effective (re)solution.
When we delved deeper, we started understanding the magnitude of this problem which was crippling the Indian judicial setup. You would have come across headlines like ‘Indian courts are burdened with 35 million+ pendencies’, ‘It takes almost a decade for the disposal of a civil suit in India’, ‘30% of claim value is lost in attempt to recover it’, and the like. Each of these challenges posed problems waiting to be solved. Amidst these adversities, we found our opportunity and Presolv360 was born: with the vision of making dispute resolution quick, accessible, affordable and convenient.
Presolv360 (https://www.presolv360.com/) is an online dispute resolution (ODR) platform that effectively resolves disputes in record time, accessible at fingertips. It uses its proprietary electronic arbitration, negotiation and mediation modules to enable disputing parties to resolve their disputes in a completely contactless and paperless manner, with timelines ranging from a few hours to a few weeks. It specialises in online commercial dispute resolution, and, also offers a unique subscription-based model that encourages parties to resolve contractual disputes without the need to litigate.
Whilst we are focussed on commercial disputes, the impact is far reaching, by improving the business and investment climate, supporting ease of doing business and most importantly, bringing access to justice at the fingertips of millions.
Through our ‘Presolv for All’ Project, we provide our services free of cost to the socially and economically weaker sections.
Looking at Presolv360’s operations and impact, we have been recognised and enlisted by the Department of Justice, Government of India, as a provider of Online Dispute Resolution services in India.
You founded Legal Tech Asia. Tell us more about this
Over the past couple of years, we have filled several applications for incubators, accelerators, business events, and one thing remained consistent across all these applications: none of them had a category called ‘legaltech’. This is also reflective of the sentiments of the business and investor community, where legaltech is often not even considered as a standalone category. We made it a personal goal to change this. To highlight how legaltech, too, is disrupting the legal industry, and to channelize this movement, we launched ‘Legal Tech Asia’ (https://legaltech.asia/). It is a platform to energize a movement of legal innovation, entrepreneurship and technology by putting together stories, research papers, articles, interviews and insights, of ‘legalpreneurs’ who are reimagining legal functions.
Your professional background is in law and accounting. What inspired your focus on legal technology?
As a Chartered Accountant and lawyer, I worked in the luxury goods industry for about half a decade. And in less than 5 years I saw several companies, who were industry leaders, file for bankruptcies. And when we dug deeper into what caused this downfall, the revelations were surprising. The answer was ‘mis-managed disputes’.
I witnessed how litigation hampers the life of a person – not only in terms of costs, time and resource outflow, but also the mental and emotional toll that it brings along with it, and not to forget the relationships it ruins. To add to it, there is little awareness about alternatives to litigation and amicable mechanisms of dispute resolution, which further amplifies the problem.
I realized that all of this could be prevented if there was a proper dispute management mechanism. And I made that my goal – to empower people with a solution that can effectively resolve disputes without recourse to courts. Making it quick, accessible and affordable was key, and the answer undoubtedly lied in harnessing the power of technology and data. Even though the words law and technology aren’t often used in the same sentence, we understood early on in our deep dive that we can achieve phenomenal results by amalgamating the two. Today, our platform has led to resolutions of thousands of disputes, and has directly sensitized over half a million people when it comes to dispute resolution.
You’re an active Member of She Breaks the Law and the Young Mumbai Center for International Arbitration. Tell us more about your involvement in these legal sector organizations.
When like-minded people come together, it sparks more innovation and opens doors to more opportunities and collaborations. My experience of being associated with She Breaks the Law and Young Mumbai Center for International Arbitration has been exactly like that: it has opened doors for more possibilities and collaborations. I have met some fantastic people through these organizations, networked with fellow entrepreneurs in the legal field, made several connections with industry stalwarts and through the process, we’ve learnt and grown together, and continue to do so. We believe that one plus one is always greater than two!
You were among those recognized in “Women Transforming India, 2018.” Tell us more about this.
It has been an honour to have been recognized amongst the top 60 ‘Women Transforming India’ (2018) by the Government of India.
Each year, the Government of India honours “exceptional women entrepreneurs, who are breaking the glass ceiling and challenging stereotypes”. This initiative is supported by the United Nations in India, the Government of India and NITI Aayog.
It has been a humbling experience for me to be included in this list of such stellar women!