Does NCLT has power to refer parties to Arbitration in an in rem insolvency proceeding

The conflict between Insolvency and Arbitration is almost of near polar extremes. The difference in focus of the two was well illustrated in Re United States Lines Inc[1] as a:

“… conflict of near polar extremes: bankruptcy policy exerts an inexorable pull towards centralization while arbitration policy advocates a decentralized approach towards dispute resolution”.

Thus, while insolvency/ bankruptcy aims to centralise all the proceedings against a debtor to one jurisdiction and give rise to a proceeding in rem (against the world at large) thereby creating third party rights for all creditors of the debtor, arbitration on the other hand advocates a decentralised approach and promotes party autonomy in dispute resolution resulting in a proceeding in personam (against a particular person).
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 Dispute mechanism available under a lease

How it started:

It started with the case of Booz-Allen & Hamilton Inc v. SBI Home Finance Ltd & Others (“Booz-Allen”), wherein the Supreme Court, after hearing the matter, held that the disputes relating to eviction and tenancy were not arbitrable. Leases are governed under the Transfer of Property Act, 1882 (“TOPA”). The court discussed the nature and scope of issues arising for consideration in an application under Section 8 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act (“Act”) wherein “even if there is an arbitration agreement between the parties, and even if the dispute is covered by the arbitration agreement, the court where the civil suit is pending, will refuse an application under Section 8 of the Act, to refer the parties to arbitration, if the subject matter of the suit is capable of adjudication only by a public forum or the relief claimed can only be granted by a special court or Tribunal”.
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LIMITATION PERIOD FOR FILING A SECTION 34 PETITION BEGINS FROM THE DATE OF RECEIPT OF THE SIGNED COPY OF THE ARBITRAL AWARD

Introduction:

Recently, a division bench of the Supreme Court in Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitran Nigam Ltd. V. M/s Navigant Technologies Pvt. Ltd.[1] has inter alia (i) clarified when the limitation period for challenging an arbitral award under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Arbitration Act”) commences; (ii) discussed the legal requirement and significance of an award being signed; and (iii) highlighted the relevance of dissenting opinions in arbitration proceedings. The Court has also made observations on what happens to the underlying disputes between the parties after an award is set aside.
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Invoking Arbitration Agreements in Unstamped Documents – Course Correction from the Garware Wall Ropes’ Judgment 

 

What happened in the Garware Wall Ropes’ Judgment?

In our earlier article,[1] we had discussed the decision of the Supreme Court in Garware Wall Ropes Ltd. v. Coastal Marine Construction & Engineering Ltd. (“Garware Judgment”).[2] We had remarked that much was left to be done to strike a balance between arbitration law, stamping law and the equitable rights of litigants. We had analysed how the Garware Judgment took a narrow view on invoking arbitration agreements in unstamped documents, in holding that an arbitration could not be invoked in case of an arbitration agreement forming a part of an unstamped document, until the defect of non-stamping was rectified. It held that before proceeding under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Arbitration Act”), the Court ought to impound the document and send it for collection of stamp duty dues. This also meant that neither the parties, nor the Court could appoint an arbitrator till the requisite stamp duty was paid.
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WRITS AGAINST ORDERS PASSED BY ARBITRAL TRIBUNALS – THE SUPREME COURT REITERATES THE LAW SMM

 Introduction

Recently, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court in Bhaven Construction v. Executive Engineer Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Ltd. and Anr[1] has observed that the High Courts’ power of interference under Articles 226[2] and 227[3] of the Constitution of India (“Constitution”), in the context of arbitral proceedings, may be exercised in ‘exceptional rarity’. Clarifying the term ‘exceptional rarity’, the Court pointed out that such interference would be warranted only in cases wherein a party is left remediless under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Arbitration Act”) or clear bad faith is shown by one of the parties.
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The Supreme Court Revisits the Consequences of Non-Payment of Stamp Duty on the Arbitration Agreement – Part I

In Part I of this post, we discussed the findings of the Court on the issue of separability of arbitration agreements from the underlying contract and the corresponding validity of arbitration agreements in unstamped agreements. In this part, we will analyse the findings of the Court with respect to arbitrability of disputes involving fraud; and

The Supreme Court Revisits the Consequences of Non-Payment of Stamp Duty on the Arbitration Agreement – Part I

Introduction

Recently, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court in M/s N.N. Global Mercantile Pvt. Ltd. v. M/s Indo Unique Flame Ltd. & Others[1] has reiterated and clarified the law on the (i) doctrine of separability of arbitration agreements from the underlying contract; (ii) arbitrability of disputes involving fraud; and (iii) maintainability of a writ petition against orders passed under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Arbitration Act”).
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Can Two Indian Parties choose foreign law to govern their arbitration agreement - The Delhi High Court answers in the Affirmative

Introduction:

Recognising that an arbitration agreement between parties is an agreement independent of the substantive contract, the Delhi High Court in Dholi Spintex Pvt. Ltd. v. Louis Dreyfus Company India Pvt. Ltd.[1] has held that two Indian parties can choose a foreign law as the law governing the arbitration between them. The Court has also reiterated the legal position on limited interference by Courts in international arbitrations.
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Anti-Arbitration Injunctions - Judicial trends and finding the middle path

An Anti-Arbitration Injunction (“AAI”) is an injunction granted by courts to restrain parties or an arbitral tribunal from either commencing or continuing with arbitration proceedings.[1]  An AAI is generally sought before an arbitration commences or in the course of the arbitration hearing or after the conclusion of substantive hearing but before the

Emergency Awards passed in Foreign-seated Arbitration - Enforceable or not

A recent award passed by an Emergency Arbitrator at the instance of Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings in relation to Reliance Retail Ventures Limited’s (RRVL) ongoing acquisition of Future Group’s retail, wholesale, logistics, and warehousing arm, has once again brought into sharp focus a gap in India’s aspirations to improve Ease of Doing Business in the country and create a conducive environment for enforcement of awards passed in foreign seated arbitrations.

Although the said Emergency Award directed Future Group to maintain status quo with regard to the transaction[1], recent news reports have confirmed that Future Group has already approached the Hon’ble Delhi High Court by way of a suit seeking to restrain Amazon from preventing the ₹24,713 crore deal from going through.[2]
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