Arbitration Act and FEMA

The judgments of the Delhi HC in Cruz City and SRM Exploration, discussed in Part 1, appears to ignore the earlier decision of the SC in Dropti Devi v Union of India[1], where the SC held (in the context of prosecution under the Conservation of Foreign Exchange and Prevention of Smuggling Activities Act) that the legislative objectives of FERA and FEMA are identical, namely, preservation of the foreign exchange resources of the country.

Continue Reading Legislative gap between the Arbitration Act and FEMA: Should Parliament step in? – Part II

Arbitration Act and FEMA

Background

India is one of the few countries that still has exchange controls and does not have full capital account convertibility.

The Foreign Exchange Management Act, 1999 (“FEMA”), empowers the Reserve Bank of India (“RBI”) to frame regulations, master directions and issue circulars for the enforcement of the FEMA (“FEMA Regulatory Regime”). The FEMA Regulatory Regime contemplates prior RBI approval for certain categories of capital account transactions between residents and non-residents.

The enforcement of international arbitration awards in India, where there is going to be a remittance of foreign exchange from a resident to a non-resident, would invariably have FEMA implications. FEMA implications may also arise in situations where the foreign award provides for transfer of shares between residents and non-residents. If the foreign award is not in conformity with the FEMA Regulatory Regime, in such a situation, can the court, where the enforcement action is filed, decline enforcement on the ground that the foreign award would be contrary to the country’s ‘public policy’.

Continue Reading Legislative gap between the Arbitration Act and FEMA: Should Parliament step in? – Part I

Mediation in India

Introduction:

As per the latest statistics available on the National Judicial Data Grid, impending cases before the District & Taluka Courts[1] stand at over 40 million, the backlog waiting to be heard at various High Courts[2] is close to 5.9 million, and the pending case inventory before the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India[3] totals approximately 71,000.

Continue Reading Analysis: Mediation in India

Legal Regime of Negotiable Instruments

Introduction

Section 138 of the Negotiable Instruments Act, 1881 (“NI Act”), ascribes criminal liability for dishonour of a cheque. The purpose of the provision has been held by the Hon’ble Supreme Court to be the promotion of efficacy of banking operations and to ensure credibility in transacting business through cheques.[i] Since a large number of such transactions and cheque payments are done by companies, the very same intent appears to be captured in Section 141 of the NI Act, which extends vicarious criminal liability on officers associated with the company or firm. The law on Section 141 of the NI Act has been clarified and elaborated upon from time to time. However, the broad principle guiding the extent of liability remains the involvement of the director concerned in the day-to-day business affairs of the company. This is, however, not a straight-jacket formula, and the nuances determining the extent of liability need to be examined closely.

Continue Reading Directors’ Vicarious Liability under Current Legal Regime of Negotiable Instruments Act: An Analysis of Evolving Judicial Precedents

Compulsory Pre-Litigation Mediation for Commercial Suits – A Boon or a Bane

Introduction

The increased sophistication with which mammoth corporates, mid-segment businesses and even small & gig economy players conduct their businesses today has bred a trusting atmosphere in which entities are willing to accept amicable forms of dispute resolution, such as mediation, instead of turning to traditional litigation. Commercial entities are benefited from this shift since it helps them to maintain a healthy business relationship with their contemporaries even in the face of commercial disputes that may arise in the course of business, without having to compromise on confidentiality or reputation.

Continue Reading Compulsory Pre-Litigation Mediation for Commercial Suits – A Boon or a Bane?

Ship Leasing in IFSC

India has a vast coastline and easy access to shipping routes, yet India contributes only 1% in global trade.[1] Many major shipowners and operators have chosen key international maritime centres such as Singapore, Hong Kong, and Dubai as their base for operations.

To create a stimulating ecosystem that can help Indian entities compete with global marine hubs by accelerating and boosting their presence internationally, IFSCA has constituted a Committee on Development of Avenues for Ship Acquisition, Financing and Leasing Activities (“SAFAL Committee”) to obtain a complete overview and assessment of the existing legal and regulatory regime in IFSC in India for ship acquisition, financing and leasing.

Continue Reading Ship Leasing in IFSC – A New Regime

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.

Continue Reading Reinstating Party Autonomy in Ad Hoc Arbitrations

The Concept of Predicate Offence The Supreme Court Clarifies

Introduction

The offence of money laundering, as per the definition in Black’s Law Dictionary is “the act of transferring illegally obtained money through legitimate people or accounts so that its original source cannot be traced”. Further to this definition, it is only but natural to assume that the money, if illegally obtained, must be obtained in relation to the commission of an underlying criminal offence. The commission and requirement of this underlying offence, commonly known as a predicate offence, has been a point of debate since the introduction of the Prevention and Money Laundering Act, 2002 (“the Act”), which provides a list of offences in the Schedule appended thereto as ‘scheduled offences’.

Continue Reading The Concept of Predicate Offence: The Supreme Court Clarifies

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.

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

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