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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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.

Continue Reading The Power to Grant Interest Pendente Lite – Arbitrator Bound by the Agreement Between the Parties: The Supreme Court Reiterates

Dispute

The Supreme Court of India in Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. v. M/s. Shree Ganesh Petroleum Rajgurunagar,[1] recently ruled that an award enhancing the rent payable under a separate agreement was liable to be set aside under Section 34(2)(a)(iv) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Arbitration Act”), on the basis that the award was based on a dispute beyond the scope of submission to arbitration. The theme of what would be within the province of a tribunal or otherwise has often been the subject matter of challenges. For example, in Satyanarayana Construction Company v. Union of India & Others[2], the Supreme Court ruled that if the underlying contract fixed a rate of interest, an arbitrator could not rewrite its terms and award a higher rate.

Continue Reading Indian Oil Corporation v. Shree Ganesh Petroleum: An arbitral tribunal’s powers to do justice are circumscribed by contract

Interim Application Already Considered by Court

Introduction

Recently, the Supreme Court in Arcelor Mittal Nippon Steel India Ltd. v. Essar Bulk Terminal Ltd.,[1] (“Arcelor-Essar Judgment”) held that the bar on the Court from entertaining interim applications under Section 9(3) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”) was applicable only if the application  had not been taken up for consideration at the time of the constitution of the Arbitral Tribunal. However, if the Court had heard the application even in part, and had applied its mind to it, it could decide to proceed with the adjudication of the same.

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Supreme court draws lakshman rekha on powers of a court under section 34: no power to modify an award

  1. The Supreme Court handed down a significant judgment[1] on the scope of power of a Court hearing a challenge to an arbitral award under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Arbitration Act”). The Supreme Court reiterated that there is no power under Section 34 to modify or vary an arbitral award.


Continue Reading Supreme court draws lakshman rekha on powers of a court under section 34: No power to modify an award

All Orders terminating proceedings are not Awards - Delhi HC sets the record straight

The issue of whether simplicitor orders terminating an arbitral proceeding is an award under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Arbitration Act”), has been a question that has been plaguing various Courts in India for a while now. The issue is crucial in nature, as it determines the remedy of a party aggrieved by such an order. While some Courts have taken the view that such an order is an award appealable under Section 34 of the Arbitration Act, others have not. This ambiguity is a cause of concern for litigants since it delays the entire time bound arbitral process intended under the Arbitration Act and leaves the litigant in a lurch. However, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi (“Delhi HC”) in PCL SUNCON v National Highway Authority of India[1] (“PCL SUNCON Case”) has addressed this issue and cleared the said ambiguity to a great extent.
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This Is the End - What Now The Aftermath of an Award being Set Aside

There is scarcely any aspect of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”), which has not seen the spectre of ad nauseum arguments and judicial pronouncements. Concepts have been devised, lauded, followed, and then set aside. Lawyers have forcefully argued for awards to be set aside, and Courts have assiduously upheld the essence and spirit of the concept of arbitration. The law has been set, and then upturned, and in this entire process, not much judicial/ legislative light seems to have fallen on the protagonist of this piece. The Act only hints at what happens after an award is set aside, and the ‘hint’ paints a somewhat grim picture. 
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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.
Continue Reading Limitation period for filing a Section 34 Petition begins from the Date of Receipt of the Signed Copy of the Arbitral Award