Reinstating Party Autonomy in Ad Hoc Arbitrations

The Supreme Court in Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (“ONGC”) Afcons Gunanusa JV (“Afcons”),[1] while deciding on four cases, inter alia held that:

(i) arbitrators cannot unilaterally decide their own fees but can exercise discretion to apportion the costs, demand deposit, and exercise lien over the delivery of the arbitral award if payments to it remain outstanding;

(ii) the fees of the arbitrator must be fixed at the inception to avoid unnecessary litigation and conflicts between parties at a later stage;

(iii) the term ‘sum in dispute’, which is the header of the first column of the Fourth Schedule to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“the Arbitration Act”), refers to the sum in dispute in a claim and counter-claim separately and not cumulatively. Consequently, arbitrators are entitled to charge separate fees for the claim and the counter-claim in an ad hoc arbitration proceeding;

(iv) the highest fee payable in an arbitration proceeding governed by the Fourth Schedule is INR 30,00,000, which is a ceiling applicable on a per-arbitrator basis and subject to a sole arbitrator’s entitlement of an additional amount of 25% on the fee payable as per the Fourth Schedule;

(v) the Fourth Schedule is to have a mandatory effect on the stipulation of fees by arbitrators appointed by arbitral institutions designated for such purpose in terms of Section 11 of the Arbitration Act in the absence of an arbitration agreement governing the fee structure; and

(vi) as regards court-appointed arbitrators, the Supreme Court held that the Fourth Schedule is by itself not mandatory in the absence of rules framed by the High Court concerned, and issued directives for fixing of fees in ad hoc arbitrations where arbitrators are appointed by courts.

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Subhkam Returns SAT Ruling in NDTV Case

The challenge in interpreting ‘control’ under the SEBI takeover regime is hardly a new one. The current definition of ‘control’ under the Takeover Regulations, 2011, similar to the one under the Takeover Code, 1997, consists of two parts. Firstly, the right to appoint a majority of the directors on the board of a company, which is fairly straightforward to determine; and secondly, the right to control the management and policy decisions of a company, which is where things tend to become slightly murky specially in the context of a minority shareholder exercising veto or affirmative vote rights.

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Admission of application Section 7(5)(a) not mandatory even when default established: Supreme Court clarifies

Introduction

The Supreme Court, in a recent judgment passed in Vidarbha Industries Power Limited v. Axis Bank Limited1, adjudicated upon whether Section 7(5)(a) of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016 (“IBC“) is a mandatory or discretionary provision i.e. on an application for initiating Corporate Insolvency Resolution Process (“CIRP“) by a financial creditor.

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Arbitration and Conciliation Act

Background

Interim measures act as significant procedural safeguards in ensuring the efficacy of the arbitration process. They serve to protect the rights of parties from the inception of the dispute till the execution of the final award. In India, interim measures may be granted in three stages i.e. before the commencement of arbitration proceedings, during the pendency of arbitration proceedings and after the passing of the arbitral award, but before its enforcement.[1]

Continue Reading Section 9(2) of The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996: A Ticking Clock on Invocation of Arbitrations in India

Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996

In Part I[1] and II[2] of this post, we have analysed the contours of Section 34(4) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“the Act”), and the questions and ambiguities that may arise in its applicability. The purpose of this blog is to further analyse the limited scope of Section 34(4) of the Act, in light of the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s judgement in I-Pay Clearing Services Pvt. Ltd. v. ICICI Bank Limited[3] case, wherein it is observed that failure on the part of the arbitral tribunal in providing findings on contentious issues in the award is not a “curable defect” under Section 34(4) of the Act, and is an acceptable ground for setting the award aside (instead).

Continue Reading Section 34(4) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996: A Fly in The Ointment? (Part III)

Awarding Interest on Interest A three Judge Bench of the Supreme Court Upholds the Law

Introduction

The Supreme Court of India upheld the power of an arbitrator to grant ‘interest on interest’ or compound interest in its recent judgement in UHL Power Company Limited v State of Himachal Pradesh[1]. Placing reliance on its earlier decision in Hyder Consulting (UK) Limited v. Governor, State of Orissa[2], the Court has held that the terms of Section 31(7)[3] of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”), are explicit in granting an arbitral tribunal the power to award interest on the “sum” directed to be paid under an arbitral award, which is inclusive of the interest awarded thereunder.

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International Regime

A three judge bench of the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India in its recent judgment dated April 27, 2022, in Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited v. M/s Discovery Enterprises Pvt. Ltd. & Anr.[1], while deciding on a challenge to an interim award on the ground that the arbitral tribunal failed to apply the group of companies doctrine, has held that a non-signatory company within a group of companies can be held bound to an arbitration agreement.

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Arbitral Award

I. Introduction

One of the quintessential features of an arbitration friendly jurisdiction is a robust award enforcement mechanism. Often such enforcement mechanisms are determined by the interpretation of ‘public policy’ of each jurisdiction. In India, the trajectory of public policy has witnessed dramatic advancements, resulting in a much narrower scope and ambit of interpretation. Consequently, Indian courts have adopted a pro-enforcement stance and this pattern can be observed even in the arbitral awards that have been passed in disputes relating to exchange control laws and securities regulations.

Continue Reading Enforcement of a Foreign Arbitral Award: Calcutta High Court Contextualises Fundamental Policy of Indian Law

Arbitration

An arbitrator is a creature of a contract and is, therefore, equally bound by it. The Supreme Court, in the recent judgement of Union of India vs. Manraj Enterprises[i], set aside an arbitral award wherein the arbitrator had awarded pendente lite and future interest on the amount awarded, inspite of a contractual bar. The Court, relying upon a catena of judgments dealing with the inherent powers of an arbitrator to award pendente lite and future interest under Section 31(7) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (the 1996 Act), held that such powers are exercisable only in the absence of an agreement to the contrary.

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JV Company’s Board

Background

The fiduciary relationship between a director and the company is among the foremost principles of company law, which was first enshrined by common law courts of equity. The Supreme Court of India (“SC”) first recognised this common law principle in its celebrated judgment in the Nanalal Zaver case[1], which noted that directors can be considered as “trustees” of the company, and “must exercise their powers for the benefit of the company and for that alone”.[2]

Continue Reading Dilemma of a Nominee Director on the JV Company’s Board – Is there a conflict in his fiduciary duties?