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Principal Associate in the Dispute Resolution Practice at the Mumbai office of Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas. Gathi focuses on arbitration and corporate, commercial and regulatory litigation involving media rights, promoter/shareholder disputes, FEMA violations, offshore construction projects, healthcare and banking. She can be reached at gathi.prakash@cyrilshroff.com.

Supreme Court to have its say on legality of Fantasy Sports

Introduction

Online gaming, particularly fantasy sports, has witnessed a surge in the Indian market primarily due to easy internet access and increase in digital usage. The number of fantasy sports operators increased seven-fold between 2016 and 2018, whereas the user base grew over 25 times between June 2016 and February 2019[1].  Investments upto USD 166 million (approx.) were made in fantasy sports operations during 2018 -2019.[2] While no valuation of the industry as a whole is readily available, Dream11, the largest fantasy sports operator in India was estimated to be valued at approximately USD 1-1.5 billion in April 2019.[3]

The growth of fantasy sports has raised questions on its legitimacy and legality in India. Fantasy sports are legally recognised in the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Canada, France and in most states in USA. In India, the High Courts of Punjab & Haryana, Rajasthan and Bombay have clarified that fantasy sports are games of “skill” rather than “chance” and, therefore, do not amount to gambling. These decisions have encouraged participation in such sports and led to its growth in India.
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The Pursuit of Enforcement – Can the Corporate Cloaks be Unravelled

Introduction

It is trite that a company is a separate legal entity, and is distinct from its members.[1] As Lord Sumption observed in Prest v Petrodel Resources Ltd.[2], “The separate personality and property of a company is sometimes described as a fiction, and in a sense it is. But the fiction is the whole foundation of English company and insolvency law.” Equally sacrosanct is the principle that arbitration proceeds on the basis of an agreement between parties. After all, “like consummated romance, arbitration rests on consent”.[3] However, practical considerations have led to the marginal dilution of these otherwise fundamental principles.

There are instances where a company and its members are not treated as separate legal entities (i.e. where the corporate ‘veil’ is pierced). Similarly, there are cases where arbitral proceedings enjoin non-signatories.[4] A unique amalgam of these exceptions is found in cases where an arbitral award is sought to be executed against an entity that was never a party to the arbitral proceedings. For example, in Cheran Properties Limited v. Kasturi and Sons Limited and Ors.[5] (“Cheran Properties”), applying the ‘group of companies’ doctrine expounded in Chloro Controls,[6] and analysing Section 35 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”) to ascertain who “persons claiming under them” would be for the purpose of binding such persons to the arbitral award, the Supreme Court permitted enforcement of an arbitral award against a third party/non-signatory. In this post, however, our focus is on whether Indian courts have pierced the corporate veil to execute an arbitral award against a third party to the arbitral proceedings when such third party’s unique relationship with the award debtor has been exploited to fraudulently circumvent or frustrate execution of the arbitral award.
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Arbitrator Fees in India

The Law Commission of India, in its 246th report, noted that one of the problems associated with arbitration in India (especially ad hoc arbitrations) is the high quantum of fees charged by arbitrators.[1] The Report went so far as to call the fees “arbitrary, unilateral and disproportionate”. The Commission recommended the adoption of a model schedule of fees for Courts to consider while framing rules for fixing of the fees of arbitrators appointed in accordance with Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (the Act). The Commission restricted its suggestions to ad hoc domestic arbitrations, noting that different standards may apply in institutional arbitrations and in international commercial arbitrations (where the Commission recommended greater deference to party autonomy).
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