Rashna Imam

Professional Qualifications:

  • 2003, Barrister-at-Law, Honourable Society of Lincoln’s Inn, England
  • 2005, Enrolled as an Advocate by the Bangladesh Bar Council 2003
  • 2010, Enrolled as an Advocate of the High Court Division, Supreme Court of Bangladesh
  • 2021, Enrolled as an Advocate of the Appellate Division, Supreme Court of Bangladesh 

Academic Qualifications:

  • 2002, LLB (Hons), University of Buckingham, England
  • 2003, LLM in International and Commercial Law, University of Buckingham, England
  • 2007, BCL, University of Oxford, England

Academic Honours:

  • First Class Honours, LLB
  • Good Performance Prize, LLB Finals
  • Best Performance Prize in Land Law, LLB
  • Best Performance Prize in Intellectual Property Law, LLB
  • Merit-based International Students Scholarships, LLB and LLM

Ranked in International Legal Directories:

  • Chambers and Partners (Asia Pacific): 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
  • Chambers and Partners (Global): 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022, 2023
  • The A-List, 2021, Bangladesh’s Top Lawyers, Asia Business Law Journal

Fellowships / Positions held/Awards:

  • Former Corporate Associate, Baker & Mckenzie (London Office), England
  • Former Member of Baker & McKenzie’s India Focus Group, England
  • Former Instructor, Company Law, Bar Vocational Course, Bangladesh Bar Council
  • Fellow, Class of 2018, Asia 21 Young Leader, Asia Society
  • International Fellow, Global Programme for Women’s Leadership (GPWL) 2019
  • Member, Advisory Committee for RMMRU and the Asia Foundation Program on Bangladeshi Labor Migrants in Maldives: Mitigating the Risks and Vulnerabilities to Trafficking and Irregular Migration’, supported by the Department of State, USA 
  • Member, Advisory Group, Bangladesh Health Watch, a pre-eminent citizen’s platform to bring about lasting improvements in the health sector
  • Founder Trustee & Executive Director, Academy of Law and Policy (ALAP), a registered trust that engages in advocacy for law and policy reform 
  • JCI Bangladesh Women of Inspiration, 2021 Award, Junior Chambers International (JCI) Bangladesh 
  • Independent Director of Phoenix Finance & Investments Limited

Rashna is the Managing Partner of Akhtar Imam & Associates and an Advocate of the Supreme Court of Bangladesh (both divisions). She is ranked as a leading lawyer in the categories of Corporate and Finance and Dispute Resolution in the renowned international legal directories, Chambers and Partners (Asia Pacific and Global) and the A-List, 2021, Bangladesh’s Top Lawyers, a ranking by Asia Business Law Journal. Before joining the firm, Rashna gained expertise as a corporate associate at Baker & McKenzie (London Office) through advising global giants like Arcelor Mittal and Schneider Electric on M&A and post-acquisition integration. 


At the firm, her specializations include foreign investment, corporate and commercial law, labour and employment, banking and finance, constitutional law and dispute resolution. She has advised different entities of Visa Inc. on establishment of a liaison office, payments systems and mobile financial services, British American Tobacco Bangladesh on the scope of trade promotional activities in view of anti-tobacco laws, Japan Tobacco international on unfair competition, Philip Van Heusen on labour and employment matters, Department of International Development (DFID), Bangladesh on establishing a Credit Information Bureau for microfinance, Ernst & Young (E & Y) on foreign exchange control laws and closure of branch office and the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), the apex trade organisation in Bangladesh, on proposed reform of the Companies Act 1994 to create an enabling business environment in Bangladesh and improve Bangladesh’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business Rankings. She is currently advising Visa and the largest payment aggregator (SSLCOMMERZ) in Bangladesh on the fall-out from the biggest scam in the e-commerce sector. 


She regularly represents her clients before the Supreme Court in judicial review proceedings against decisions of public bodies, in company litigation and in commercial arbitrations under different rules of arbitration (ICC, UNCITRAL, FOSFA, GAFTA, Arbitration Act 2001 of Bangladesh, etc.). She is currently representing ABB India Limited (a leading engineering multinational), as junior counsel in international commercial arbitration proceedings against Power Grid Company of Bangladesh Limited (PGCB), the sole, government-owned, electric power transmission organization in Bangladesh, challenging imposition by PGCB of liquidated damages on ABB for alleged contractual violation. The contract was for erection, and commissioning of power substations across Bangladesh. She is also representing the Exclusive General Sales Agent of Gulf Air in Bangladesh in enforcement proceedings by GF of ICC Arbitral award against the GSA and in litigation arising out of arbitration before the Supreme Court.


She has made inroads in establishing and enforcing health rights in Bangladesh through public interest litigation (PIL) and advocacy. Her landmark cases in this regard include PIL for establishment of a legal framework for emergency medical services for road accident victims and protection of good Samaritans, and PIL for formulation of guidelines for prevention of medically unnecessary C-sections, both of which she filed on behalf of the leading NGO, Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST) and the case leading to the judgment directing reform of the Human Organ Transplantation Act 1999. She was invited by UNDP (Malaysia) to address the entire the Judges of the Federal Court of Malaysia on PIL. Her stellar work through PIL earned her two international recognition/fellowships: Asia 21 Young Leader (2018) and Global Programme for Women’s Leadership (2019) and awards and recognition in Bangladesh. Leading national daily newspapers and magazines have published feature stories on her. She regularly engages with all levels of stakeholders (governmental and otherwise) to bring about law and policy reform. 


Representative Matters:

  • Corporate, commercial, financial: Advised different entities of Visa Inc. around the world (Bombay, Middle East, Australia, Singapore, etc.) on various corporate, commercial and financial matters including the following:
    • Setting up of a liaison office in Bangladesh
    • Regulatory framework for mobile financial services in Bangladesh;
    • Pros and cons of each of the different business entities under the laws of Bangladesh that Visa may adopt to establish physical presence in Bangladesh; timing, requisite documentation and cost; any specific regulatory or employment related requirements or restrictions with regard to these different entities;
  • Microfinance & trade: Advised Department for International Development (DFID), Bangladesh as junior consultant on various matters over the years:
    • Conducted a comprehensive review of the legal framework in Bangladesh for the establishment of a Credit Information Bureau for Microfinance (CIB-MF); interviewed all stakeholders including heads of microfinance institutions, Microcredit Regulatory Authority (the regulator), and the Bangladesh Bank and prepared a report suggesting amendments to existing laws, rules and regulations to facilitate the establishment of CIB- MF.
    • Optimal legal form for the Microfinance Development Centre’s (“MDC”) institutional development, to enable MDC to become an independent, sustainable and permanent training institution;
    • Reviewed the Memorandum of Association and Rules and Regulations of the Bangladesh Foreign Trade Institute (BFTI) to ascertain whether the Memo helps deliver the intended roles, which is an independent body under the joint collaboration of the Government and the private sector for trade capacity building in Bangladesh;
  • Tobacco products usage control laws, financial laws, corporate and commercial: Advised British American Tobacco Bangladesh (“BATB”) on various matters over the years, including: 
    • Retrospective imposition of VAT & supplementary duty of Tk.1924,00,00,000 (One thousand nine hundred and twenty four crores taka) on the sale of tobacco products and on invoking arbitration under bilateral investment treaties between Bangladesh and UK and Bangladesh and Netherlands;
    • Legal complexities of sending books of accounts and other financial documents of the company outside Bangladesh; in order to advise, we had to conduct a comprehensive review of, among other laws, the Companies Act 1994, the Income Tax Ordinance 1984, the Securities and Exchange Ordinance 1969, the Listing Regulations of Dhaka Stock Exchange, etc.
    • Placement of graphical health warnings (GHW) on a cigarette packet in the light of section 10(1) of the Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) Act 2005 as amended by the Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) (Amendment) Act 2013 and the Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) Rules 2015;
    • Implications of certain business activities of BATB in the light of the Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) (Amendment) Act 2013;
    • Legal implication of certain activities under Corporate Social Responsibility of British American Tobacco Bangladesh (BATB) in view of the Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) Act 2005 and the Smoking and Tobacco Products Usage (Control) (Amendment) Act 2013
    • Scope of trade promotional activities and the scope of authority of Magistrates and Government Officials;
  • Foreign Exchange control regulations, company incorporation, branch closure: Advised Ernst & Young, India on closure of its branch office in Bangladesh, formation of a fully owned subsidiary company and all foreign exchange control, regulatory and tax matters arising from that.
  • Legal and regulatory framework for OTT Platforms: Advised Spotify on zero rating deals. 
  • International Commercial Arbitration under the Arbitration under the Arbitration Act, 2001: Represented ABB India Limited (a leading engineering multinational, which helps customers to use electrical power effectively and to increase industrial productivity in a sustainable way), as junior counsel in an arbitration application in the High Court and in arbitration proceedings against Power Grid Company of Bangladesh Limited (PGCB), the sole electric power transmission organization in Bangladesh, owned by the government, challenging imposition by PGCB of liquidated damages equivalent to on ABB for alleged violation of the contract between the parties due to delayed performance of contractual obligations. The contract was for Design, Supply, Erection, Testing and Commissioning of 132KV Transmission Lines and Substations on Turnkey basis in 10 areas across the country. Represented Globe as counsel in international arbitrations under GAFTA and FOSFA Rules of Arbitration, arising out of contractual disputes;
  • Company Law Review: Conducted for the Federation of Bangladesh Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FBCCI), the apex trade organisation in Bangladesh, a legal review of the Companies Act 1994 in view of international best practices and drafted a set of reform proposals in order to create an enabling business environment in Bangladesh and improve Bangladesh’s ranking in the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business.
  • Labour and Employment: Advised Phillips Van Heusen Far East Limited on various labour and employment issues, including, interpretation of various provisions of the Labour Act 2006, termination of employment contract, severance package, notice period, appropriate visa, work permit, Export-Oriented Garments Industries (Temporary, Importation) Rules, 1985, Bangladesh Importer Guidelines, etc.
  • Whistleblowing Laws: Advised Mitsubishi on the whistleblowing regime in Bangladesh 
  • Establishment of a biotechnology company in Bangladesh: Advised Globe on the establishment of a biotechnology company in Bangladesh (first of its kind) to own and operate a state-of-the art research and development facility for the development of biosimilar and novel products in the facility; once developed, Globe will apply for patenting of the products in Canada; drafted and negotiated the terms of a research and development contract for the development of biosimilar and novel products in the facility, with elaborate clauses on non-competition, confidentiality and protection of intellectual property;
  • Arbitration applications arising out of an International Commercial Arbitration: Advised and successfully represented MGI, a swiss telecom operator against Bangladesh Telephone Company Limited (BTCL), a government owned telecom operator in Arbitration Applications in the High Court under sections 7 and 12 of the Arbitration Act 2001 for interim relief and appointment of arbitrator respectively. The arbitration was invoked to resolve a contractual dispute over call termination rate and disconnection of circuit resulting in losses amounting to millions of US dollars.
  • Health rights: Her landmark achievements include establishment of a legal framework for emergency-medical-services for road accident victims, in view of the urgent need to curb road fatalities, through a public interest litigation (PIL) on behalf of Bangladesh Legal Aid and Services Trust (BLAST). She also secured a judgment in a PIL that directed the Ministry of Health to amend the Human Organ Donation and Transplantation Act 1999 to reduce the gap between demand and supply of kidneys and curb illegal kidney trade by expanding the definition of donors (currently restricted to near relatives) to include emotional donors. She also successfully obtained orders from the High Court on behalf of BLAST on the relevant authorities to formulate guidelines to prevent medically unnecessary C-sections in private and public hospitals in Bangladesh.
  • Law and policy reform through PIL: As United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) Independent Expert on Public Interest Litigation to the Federal Court of Malaysia, delivered key note lecture to the Malaysian judiciary, including the Chief Justice and Federal Court Judges, on strengthening judicial oversight and capacity to shape sensitive law and policy issues and advised the Malaysian Bar on avenues to hold the executive branch of the Government accountable through Public Interest Litigation.
  • Acquisition of assets of a telecommunication company: Advised Quippo (Indian telecoms infrastructure group, part of the Srei Group) on the proposed acquisition of the entire passive mobile telecom infrastructure of Banglalink, one of the largest mobile telecom operators in Bangladesh; this deal was set to become the first of its kind in Bangladesh (Deal Value: USD 250 million); a tower management contract would have been issued to Quippo’s sister company, Viom Networks, which would have eventually taken over ownership of all of Banglalink’s 5000 towers.
  • Securities law: Advised and represented Pubali Bank Ltd. (the largest private commercial bank in Bangladesh) as junior counsel in a court case against the Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), the stock market regulator, challenging the legality of SEC’s consent to capital issue granted to Unique Hotel & Resorts Ltd “negligently” and in “undue haste” and alleging complete failure on the part of the regulator to discharge its statutory duties to regulate pre-IPO placements and protect investor’s interests; the bank is personally aggrieved to the tune of approximately Tk. 42.5 million by buying Unique Hotel’s pre-IPO placement shares;
  • Internal restructuring of banks: Advised Arab Bangladesh Bank Limited on its internal restructuring in compliance with Bangladesh Bank’s notifications.

Op-eds in leading national daily newspapers:

Selected dialogues, workshops & training programmes:

  • Moderated webinars organized by the Academy of Law and Policy (ALAP) on Virtual Courts: Challenges and Prospects and Rights of Patients during the COVID-19 Pandemic:
  • Moderated a panel discussion on Company Law Reform at the Think Legal Corporate & Commercial Law Conference, 2018.
  • Expert Panellist at the Dhaka Chambers of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) Roundtable Discussion, “Companies Act, Critical Reforms for Private Sector Development”.
  • Expert Panellist at the two-day long South Asia Regional Conference on Gender, Rights and Choices: Access to Justice in a Megacity (2017), organized by BLAST and University of Dhaka.
  • Expert Panellist at the workshop on the draft Citizenship Act organized by the Refugee and Migratory Movements Research Unit (RRUMRU) on 19th November, 2016.
  • Participated in ‘Training of Trainers Programme on Corporate Governance’ organized by Bangladesh Enterprise Institute and the Academy of Corporate Governance.
  • Organized and participated in multi-stakeholder policy dialogues on critical national and regional issues as a member of Junior Chambers International, Bangladesh.