Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996

Arbitration Agreement

Background

Kompetenz-kompetenz, allowing the arbitral tribunal to rule on its own jurisdiction, is one of the fundamental principles of arbitration. In Indian arbitration law, this is captured in Section 16 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”). This is further emphasised in Indian Farmer Fertilizer Cooperative Limited v. Bhadara Products (2018) 2 SCC 534 (“IFFCO Judgment”), wherein the Supreme Court has held that ‘jurisdiction’ mentioned in Section 16 has reference to three things: (1) existence of a valid arbitration agreement, (2) whether arbitral tribunal is properly constituted and (3) whether matters submitted to arbitration are in accordance with the arbitration agreement. Clearly, the existence of a valid arbitration agreement falls within the scope of jurisdictional matters to be determined by the arbitral tribunal.


Continue Reading Scope of Scrutiny of An Arbitration Agreement in a Section 9 Petition Filed before Commencement of Arbitral Proceedings

TIME IS THE ESSENCE OF THIS CONTRACT - IS IT REALLY

INTRODUCTION

Negotiated, as also standard format contracts, are rife with clauses proclaiming time is of the essence. Parties are usually rest assured after spelling this out, hoping (nay assured) that such words employed would by themselves be adequate to enforce rights through a Court or an arbitral process. Sadly, mere words are usually never enough.

The Supreme Court, in the recent judgement of Welspun Specialty Solution Limited vs. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Ltd.[i], has reiterated the principles basis which Courts are required to construe whether time is of the essence of a contract. The Court held that a collective reading of the entire contract and its surrounding circumstances is imperative to come to such a conclusion. Merely having an explicit clause in the contract may not be sufficient to make time the essence of it. The Court also held that the availability of extension procedures to fulfil obligations under a contract, along with consequent imposition of liquidated damages, are good indicators to hold that time is not of the essence.
Continue Reading Time is the Essence of this Contract: Is it Really?

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.


Continue Reading Interim Application Already Considered by Court? Section 9(3) of the Arbitration Act to Not Apply

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

Indian Courts continue with the pro-enforcement approach

INTRODUCTION

1. On June 18, 2021, the Delhi High Court, in proceedings seeking enforcement of arbitral awards against foreign states, has reiterated the principle of restrictive immunity and upheld the basic tenets of International Commercial Arbitration – flexibility, stability, efficiency, and its legally binding nature. The Court held that prior consent of the Central Government under Section 86 of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (“Code”), is not required for enforcement of arbitral awards against a foreign state. Importantly, it also held that foreign state cannot claim sovereign immunity for the purpose of stalling enforcement of an arbitral award rendered against it, and which arises out of a commercial transaction.


Continue Reading Indian Courts continue with the pro-enforcement approach: Delhi HC reiterates principle of restrictive immunity in enforcement of arbitral awards against foreign states

How Much is Too Much - Supreme Court on Scope of Examination of Arbitration Agreement at Pre-Arbitral Stage

When faced with a suit or proceeding in any court or tribunal when there is an arbitration clause in the agreement, Section 8 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”), empowers a judicial authority to refer parties to arbitration, thereby honouring the parties’ (pre-dispute) bargain. The Law Commission of India, in its 246th report, recommended amendments to Sections 8 and 11(6A)[1] of the Arbitration Act, with the intent to restrict the scope of judicial intervention at the pre-arbitral stage only to prima facie determine whether an arbitration agreement exists, thereby making it imperative for such judicial authority to refer the parties to arbitration, leaving the final determination of the existence and validity of an arbitration agreement to the arbitral tribunal under Section 16.
Continue Reading How Much is Too Much? Supreme Court on Scope of Examination of Arbitration Agreement at Pre-Arbitral Stage

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.
Continue Reading All Orders terminating proceedings are not Awards: Delhi HC sets the record straight

 Supreme Court Clarifies Law On Limitation Period For Filing An Appeal Under Section 37 Of The Arbitration Act

INTRODUCTION:

The Supreme Court in the case of Government of Maharashtra (Water Resources Department) Represented by Executive Engineer v. M/s Borse Brothers Engineers & Contractors Pvt. Ltd.[1] has inter alia set right the law regarding the period of limitation for condonation of delay in filing appeals under Section 37[2] of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Arbitration Act”). Overruling its earlier decision in N.V. International v. State of Assam[3] (“N.V. International”) and emphasising the central object of speedy disposal of disputes sought to be achieved by the Arbitration Act and the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 (“Commercial Courts Act”), the Court has allowed condonation of only ‘short delays’, setting out strict parameters for permitting the same.
Continue Reading Supreme Court Clarifies Law on Limitation Period for Filing an Appeal under Section 37 of The Arbitration Act

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. 
Continue Reading This Is the End: What Now? The Aftermath of an Award being Set Aside

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