In a unique fact scenario, the sole arbitrator, in a domain name dispute between parties, named himself in the “Hall of Fame” for giving a particular type of decision in such disputes. Upon challenge to the arbitral award passed, the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi exercised its powers under Section 34 of the Arbitration and
As with any legal proceeding, an arbitrator’s impartiality and independence is the bedrock of a fair and valid arbitration proceeding. In its recent decision in the case of Margo Networks Pvt Ltd & Anr. v. Railtel Corporation of India Ltd (“Margo v. Railtel”), the Hon’ble High Court of Delhi exercised its powers under Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”), with the intention to highlight the importance of appointing arbitrators in a manner that is unbiased and does not favour any one party.Continue Reading Delhi HC’s Margo V. Railtel Order: Analysing Impartiality in Arbitrator Appointments
The Delhi High Court, had recently in the case of National Highway Authority of India v. Trichy Thanjavur Expressway Ltd. O.M.P. (COMM) 95/2023 and Trichy Thanjavur Expressway Ltd. v. National Highway Authority of India O.M.P. (COMM) 106/2023 (collectively the “Trichy Thanjavur Expressway Matters”), invited counsels to advance submissions in relation to a court’s powers under Section 34 of the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”), and more particularly on the power of courts to partially set aside arbitral awards.Continue Reading Determining the ‘Lakshman Rekha’ of Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act
On 18th May 2023, a two-judge bench of the Supreme Court in B&T AG v. Ministry of Defence(“B&T”) ruled that mere negotiations, as in the case of a civil suit, will not postpone the cause of action for the purpose of computing limitation for initiation of arbitration.
This decision, although consistent with a long line of judgments in the context of computation of period of limitation for arbitral claims, waters down the progressive view taken by the Supreme Court in the case of Geo Miller & Co. Pvt. Ltd. v. Rajasthan Vidyut Utpadan Nigam Ltd. (“Geo Miller”).Continue Reading Time spent in contractually mandated pre-arbitral negotiations not excluded – SC in B&T AG v Ministry of Defence
Recently, the Delhi High Court refused to hold a third-party funder liable for furnishing security in enforcement of a foreign award, ruling that the funder — not being either a party to the arbitration agreement, the arbitration, or the eventual award — could not be “mulcted with liability, which they have neither undertaken nor are aware of”. Continue Reading Third party Funding – A funder remains a ‘Third Party” and not a ‘Party’ to the arbitration or award
The issue of enforceability of an arbitration clause contained in an unstamped/ insufficiently stamped agreement has been the subject of various judicial pronouncements. Conflicting decisions have been delivered by various High Courts and even the Supreme Court (“SC”) did not lay down a conclusive position. Recently though, a five judge bench of the apex court, through its judgment in N.N. Global Mercantile Private Limited v. Indo Unique Flame Limited (“NN Global”), finally settled the law on enforceability of arbitration agreements contained in unstamped/ insufficiently stamped arbitration agreements.Continue Reading Enforceability of an Unstamped Arbitration Agreement
The legal position with respect to enforceability of put option clauses has not been a glorious chapter in the history of India’s securities law. The genesis of this vexed issue lies in – (i) the erstwhile Section 20 of the Securities Contracts (Regulation) Act, 1956 (“SCRA”) which had provided that all options in securities shall be illegal; and (ii) a notification issued by the Ministry of Finance in 1969, which inter alia provided that any contract for sale or purchase of securities, other than such spot delivery contract or contract for cash or hand delivery or special delivery in any securities shall be prohibited (“1969 Notification”).Continue Reading Enforceability of Put Options under SCRA – Bombay HC’s latest judgment finally clears the air!
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, 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
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
The Supreme Court in Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Limited (“ONGC”) Afcons Gunanusa JV (“Afcons”), 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