How English Grammar Saved Yes Bank Millions Of Dollars In A Lawsuit In London High Court

The judge in London’s High Court agreed with Yes Bank’s interpretation of English grammar, saving the bank millions of dollars in a lawsuit.

A $7.5 million lawsuit filed by Cantor Fitzgerald, a US-headquartered financial adviser and investment bank, against Mumbai-headquartered Yes Bank in the high court in London failed because the judge agreed with the latter’s interpretation of English grammar. The case hinged on whether the term “Financing” mentioned in the December 2019 agreement between Yes Bank and Cantor Fitzgerald related only to private placements, private offerings or could it also include Follow-on Public Offering (FPO).

Cantor Fitzgerald claimed that the agreement included FPO which would make them eligible to claim their share from Yes Bank’s successful July 2020 FPO which raised $2 billion in total. Based on investments in the FPO from three entities, Tilden Park (US$ 300 million), Hinduja group (US$ 22.7 million) and Amansa (US$ 50 million), Cantor claimed 2 percent ($7.5 million) on the basis that these three were classified as potential investors in its agreement with Yes Bank.

However, Justice Robert Bright in a judgment dated March 31, 2023, ruled that Yes Bank was correct in its surmise that the construction of the term “Financing” could not include the FPO, but was instead restricted to private offerings, terming it as “not an abstruse rule or pattern known only to specialist grammarians.” We shall come to the wordings later.

That’s because the larger case was much more than understanding the placement of gerund and the use of verb participles! The four-day trial in March 2023, which was preceded by case management hearings, provided a window to the hectic parleys and efforts in late 2019 and early 2020 to infuse capital in the beleaguered Yes Bank. The relationship between Yes Bank and Cantor Fitzgerald had come to be because of the personal relationship between the former’s CEO and managing director Ravneet Gill, and the latter’s President Anshu Jain. It must be noted that much of the initial discussions between the two entities were helmed by Gill and Jain, and conducted privately. Cantor’s assistance was formalised by virtue of an Engagement letter in December 2019, which was followed by a further letter in February 2020.

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