Does the arbitration clause in a commercial contract becomes unenforceable due to non-payment of stamp duty, or it is preserved by the separability doctrine? This question has riddled the Supreme Court of India (“SC”) repeatedly and has resulted in contrary views being adopted by various three-judge benches. The issue has been finally laid to rest by a constitution bench of the SC through its judgment dated April 25, 2023 in M/s N. N. Global Mercantile Private Limited v. M/s. Indo Unique Flame Ltd. & Ors.[i] , wherein it held that an unstamped instrument in need of stamping is not a contract and not enforceable in law. Therefore, the arbitration clause contained therein is also unenforceable. Similarly, an arbitration agreement, which attracts stamp duty but is not stamped or insufficiently stamped, cannot be acted upon. Interestingly, the decision has not been unanimous since two Hon’ble Judges have dissented. Continue Reading Does Non-Stamping of a Contract Render an Arbitration Clause Contained in it Unenforceable? The Supreme Court Says Yes
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
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
Recently in Sanjiv Prakash v. Seema Kukreja & Ors., the Delhi High Court has reiterated that novation of an agreement would necessarily result in destruction of the arbitration clause contained therein. In this regard, it was observed that an arbitration agreement being a creation of an agreement may be destroyed by agreement.
Facts of the case:
Respondent No. 3 had incorporated a company in 1971, under the name of Asian Films Laboratories Private Limited, which was subsequently renamed as ANI Media Private Limited in 1997 (“Company”). The shareholders of the said Company were Respondent No. 3’s son (“Petitioner”) and his daughter and wife (“Respondent No. 1” and “Respondent No. 2” respectively) (Petitioner and Respondents together hereinafter referred to as the “Family”). The Petitioner was the Managing Director of the Company. In 1996, Thomson Reuters Corporation Pte. Limited (“Reuters”) approached the Petitioner for a long-term equity investment in the Company on the condition that the Petitioner would play an active role in the management of the Company.
Continue Reading Does an Arbitration Clause survive Novation of an Agreement?