Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996

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.

Continue Reading Hon’ble Supreme Court Follows the International Regime: Upholds Group of Companies Doctrine in Arbitration

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

Arbitration

INTRODUCTION

Recently, in the case of Gyan Prakash Arya vs. Titan Industries Limited[1], the Supreme Court enunciated the limited scope of an arbitral tribunal’s power under Section 33 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (the Act). The Court has authoritatively clarified that such power can only be exercised to correct clerical and/or arithmetic errors (and errors of similar nature).

Continue Reading The Supreme Court Clarifies: The Power Under Section 33 is Limited to Rectifying Clerical/ Arithmetical Errors

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