Sharmilla Bhima is a partner in the Corporate department in Mauritius. Prior to joining the firm in August 2007, she was a practising barrister in general private practice with exposure to both the offshore commercial and litigation.
Sharmilla has specialised in international arbitration. She is a member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators UK and is an arbitrator on the MARC Panel of Arbitrators of the Mauritius Chamber of Commerce and Industry. She formed part of the team that was responsible for opening the former LCIA chapter in Mauritius on international arbitration when the LCIA set up the LCIA-MIAC international arbitration centre jointly with the Government of Mauritius in 2011, from which it officially withdrew as from 27 July 2018.
She is one of the contributing authors for Lexis Nexis, representing Appleby, on International Arbitration in relation to the Mauritian jurisdiction and remains active on matters relating to international arbitration. Sharmilla gained significant experience on arbitration in relation to insurance claims linked with road-accidents as a Vice-Chairman of the Motor Vehicle Insurance Arbitration Committee.
She has acquired expertise on intellectual property law and regularly advises on the protection of intellectual property. As Chairperson of the Industrial Property Tribunal she has helped the Government of Mauritius on both the protection of intellectual property rights and on its joint efforts with the World Intellectual Property Organisation to adopt the Copyright Act 2014. She collaborated with the Government of Mauritius for the preparation of the Industrial Property Act 2019. Sharmilla contributed to a chapter on the protection of intellectual property law in “Investing in Mauritius Ocean of Opportunities” and “Doing Business in Mauritius – A Practical Guide,” which were authored by a senior member of the Mauritian Bar. She provided a testimonial for the third edition (2020) of the latter book.
Sharmilla has been ranked as a ‘Business Leader’ in Mauritius in the 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020 editions of Business Leaders, a publication aimed at providing insights to local and foreign businessmen as well as investors on Mauritian decision makers within the public and private sector.
She is involved in transactional and undertook some non-transactional matters. On the transactional side, she has worked on a number of transactions for financial institutions, private equity and hedge fund clients, credit restructuring, derivatives transactions, mergers and acquisitions, corporate, insolvency, fund and trust formation and disputes as well as employment law matters (both contentious and non-contentious), including Australia and New Zealand Banking Group Limited, Axis Bank Ltd, Bank of America, Banque Cantonale de Geneve, Barclays Bank PLC, BMCE Bank International, Citibank N.A., Citigroup, Commerzbank Aktiengesellschaft, Coutts & Co., Credit Suisse AG, Deutsche Bank AG, Electro Banque, Goldman Sachs, HSBC, ICICI, JP Morgan, Lloyds TSB Bank, Macquarie Bank Ltd, Morgan Stanley, National Australia Bank Limited, Royal Bank of Scotland, Société Générale, Stanbic Bank Ghana Ltd, Standard Chartered Bank, UBS AG, AlcatelLucent, The Daiichi Mutual Life Insurance Company, DAMAC Holdings Co, LLC, Dallah Albaraka (Ireland) Ltd, Gateway Telecommunications, Kerzner International Group, Interswitch, Johnson & Johnson and SAB Miller Plc.
Sharmilla read Law at the University of Reading, UK and attended the BPP Law School for the Bar Vocational Course. She undertook her pupillage at Thomas More Chambers, London, UK and was called to the English Bar at the Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn in July 1998. She was called to the Mauritian Bar in September 1999. She has specialised in international arbitration with Queen Mary University of London and the World Intellectual Property Organisation and has an interest in Blockchain.
Sharmilla is a Fellow of the Mauritius Institute of Directors. She is a member of the following institutions:
- The American Chamber of Commerce, Mauritius;
- The Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, UK and currently serves as the Vice-President of the Alumni branch of Lincoln’s Inn in Mauritius; and
- The Mauritius Bar Association for which she also served as a co-opted member of the Mauritius Bar Council 2007-2008.
She has been actively involved in community service and (i) helped with the launch of the Appleby Legal Education Scholarship in Mauritius (ii) served as the President of The English-Speaking Union (Mauritius) from 2009 to 2011. She contributes to CPD courses in her areas of specialism to the Institute of Judicial Legal Studies (IJLS) of Mauritius and has also made presentations on these areas to organisations.
She is fluent in English and French and has a working knowledge of Hindi.
Some recent examples of work include advising:
- Oversea-Chinese Banking Corporation Ltd on a secured refinancing facility of USD 470,726,777 to Singapore listed company, Ezion Holdings Limited (Ezion). The refinancing, which was comprised of a total of six lenders, was aimed at enablling Ezion restructure its debt activities. This refinancing comprised of minimal fixed principal repayments split over a period of 6 years and a considerable decrease in the interest rates. Two Mauritian companies which formed part of the same group of companies as Ezion provided the security package in support of the facility extended to Ezion whose services are focused on owning, chartering and the management of rigs and vessels within the oil and gas industries and is understood to own one of the largest and most sophisticated fleet of liftboats worldwide.
- Selfkey in relation to its revolutionary digital identity token sale which raised a total of USD 22 million. Selfkey is a blockchain-based digital identity solution which allows individuals and companies to own, control and manage their digital identity. She formed part of the Appleby team consisting of the Mauritius and Cayman Offices.
- Rockcastle Global Real Estate Company Limited in relation to the merger of its South African related fund with South African New Europe Property Limited (NEPI). With this merger, the 2 companies formed the largest real estate company in Central and Eastern Europe and constitute one of the largest European real estate retail companies In consideration thereof, Nepi Rockcastle issued ordinary shares to both Nepi and Rockcastle in accordance with the agreed swap ratio of 4.5 existing Rockcastle shares for every 1 existing NEPI share.
- Goldman Sachs in relation to its investment of USD 70,000,000 in Red Planet Hotels, a pan-Asian budget hotel chain which operates 26 properties in Japan, Thailand, the Philippines and Indonesia, in order to promote its expansion by the projected construction of 10 hotels within the next 24 months. The facility of USD 70,000,000 was extended to Red Planet Hotels Limited, the parent company of the Mauritian guarantor
- Bank of Baroda Plc in its capacity as facility agent for a USD 1,086,000,000 facility being extended to a Mauritian borrower for the re-financing of two towers that form part of the Sterling Group
- Interswitch Limited in a deal that was reported in The Lawyer 2014 and by the Kenyan press. Interswitch Limited provides electronic payment and transaction processing services to the Nigerian government, banks and corporate organisations. It acted as acquired the entire share capital of Paynet Holdings, a Mauritian company (and its subsidiaries and parent company), by way of a share purchase agreement. Thus, while Interwitch Limited will acquire a majority shareholding in Paynet Group, the latter’s shareholders will become the shareholders of the Interswitch group. On a wider spectrum, the transactions directly affects Kenya’s electronic platform inasmuch as Interswitch Transnational Holding (a Nigerian company) has acquired a majority stake in Paynet Kenya which owns the Pesa Point of ATMs
On the non-transactional matters, Sharmilla appears in proceedings before the Supreme Court for clients which have ranged from leading financial institutions of which an Australian bank to leading foreign insurance companies. Her practice includes applications to enforce foreign judgments, derivative actions by minority shareholders and ship arrest, all of which are now leading authorities
Enforcement of Foreign Judgments
- Appearing for Dallah Albaraka (Ireland) Ltd, a company incorporated in the Isle of Man, and which is the investment arm of the Dubai-based Dallah Albaraka Group, a prominent business enterprise in Saudi Arabia and the Middle East. Dallah Albaraka (Ireland) Ltd obtained judgment against the parent company of a Mauritian company before the Queen’s Bench Division of the High Court of Justice for breach of guarantee. This case is now a leading authority on as regards the procedure to follow to enforce a judgment delivered by a superior court of England and Wales. It also addressed important issues such as, the legal significance of a party labelled as ‘CoRespondent’ in proceedings and, the status of legal practitioners employed by law firms registered under the Law Practitioner’s Act1984.
- Appearing for BayerHealthcare LLC to successfully enforce a judgment that it obtained in the USA against a Mauritius company for breach of a federally protected trademark.
Applications for Derivative actions.
- Appearing before the Court of Appeal for the majority shareholder of a Mauritian company, which challenged the decision of the Bankruptcy Division of the Supreme Court to grant leave to the minority shareholder to enter proceedings in the name of the company for alleged prejudice to it as a result of wrongdoings by the directors. The Court of Appeal upheld Appleby’s interpretation of legislation on the concurrence of two pieces of legislation dealing with the jurisdiction of the appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court.
Said Business School, University of Oxford (England)
Queen Mary University of London (England)
World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) (Switzerland)
BPP Law School, London (England)
The University of Reading (England)