Indian Contract Act 1872

The Supreme Court Revisits the Consequences of Non-Payment of Stamp Duty on the Arbitration Agreement – Part I

In Part I of this post, we discussed the findings of the Court on the issue of separability of arbitration agreements from the underlying contract and the corresponding validity of arbitration agreements in unstamped agreements. In this part, we will analyse the findings of the Court with respect to arbitrability of disputes involving fraud; and

The Supreme Court Revisits the Consequences of Non-Payment of Stamp Duty on the Arbitration Agreement – Part I

Introduction

Recently, a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court in M/s N.N. Global Mercantile Pvt. Ltd. v. M/s Indo Unique Flame Ltd. & Others[1] has reiterated and clarified the law on the (i) doctrine of separability of arbitration agreements from the underlying contract; (ii) arbitrability of disputes involving fraud; and (iii) maintainability of a writ petition against orders passed under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Arbitration Act”).
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Can Two Indian Parties choose foreign law to govern their arbitration agreement - The Delhi High Court answers in the Affirmative

Introduction:

Recognising that an arbitration agreement between parties is an agreement independent of the substantive contract, the Delhi High Court in Dholi Spintex Pvt. Ltd. v. Louis Dreyfus Company India Pvt. Ltd.[1] has held that two Indian parties can choose a foreign law as the law governing the arbitration between them. The Court has also reiterated the legal position on limited interference by Courts in international arbitrations.
Continue Reading Can Two Indian Parties choose foreign law to govern their arbitration agreement? The Delhi High Court answers in the Affirmative

Does an Arbitration Clause survive Novation of an Agreement 

Introduction:

Recently in Sanjiv Prakash v. Seema Kukreja & Ors.[1], 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.
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Competition or unlawful contractual interference

In a recent decision, the Delhi High Court dealt with the tort of unlawful interference in contractual relationships and inter alia held that the said tort has no place in India in view of Section 27 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 (“Contract Act”).[1]

Background

The developer of a certain property at Amritsar agreed to lease the said property to the Plaintiff for fifteen years, by way of a term sheet. The Plaintiff paid a security deposit to the developer as per the term sheet and proceeded to draw up the main transaction document.

Upon learning that the Defendant (a competitor of the Plaintiff) had been pursuing the developer for the purpose of entering into an agreement with respect to the same property, the Plaintiff informed the Defendant about the term sheet executed by the developer with the Plaintiff and requested the Defendant to desist from pursuing the developer. However, the Plaintiff learnt that the developer had entered into an agreement with the Defendant with respect to the said property. Soon thereafter, the Plaintiff was informed by the developer that the term sheet stood terminated on account of the Plaintiff’s failure to execute the main transaction document within the stipulated time. The developer refunded the security deposit, which was accepted by the Plaintiff without protest. The Plaintiff alleged that (a) the Defendant induced the developer to terminate the term sheet with the Plaintiff; and (b) the Defendant had similarly attempted to interfere with transactions between the Plaintiff and developers of other properties in different cities.

The Plaintiff filed a suit against the Defendant inter alia seeking a permanent injunction to restrain the Defendant from inducing a breach of any agreement between the Plaintiff and third parties in respect of non-functional properties of the Plaintiff across India.
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unfettered right to exclude or limit their liability for breach of contract Part 2

In Part I of this post, we had discussed the concept of exclusion or limitation of liability clauses and the position in India. In this part, we will examine the position of such clauses in England and provide our views on such clauses. 

Position in England 

The application of clauses excluding or limiting liability in England is more consistent. When faced with standard form contracts or contracts where there is inequality of bargaining power, English courts apply the test of fairness or reasonableness of clauses in such contracts and refuse to enforce provisions of contracts that are unconscionable or exploitative.[1]
Continue Reading Do parties have an unfettered right to exclude or limit their liability for breach of contract? – Part II

Do parties have an unfettered right to exclude or limit their liability for breach of contract – Part 1

Introduction

The law of damages in India is codified in Sections 73 and 74 of the Indian Contract Act, 1872 (“Contract Act”). Section 73 of the Contract Act provides that a party that suffers breach of contract is entitled to receive from the party that has broken the contract, compensation for any loss or damage caused to him thereby, which naturally arose in the usual course of things from such breach or which the parties knew, when they made the contract, to be likely to result from a breach. Section 73 of the Contract Act bars the grant of compensation for remote and indirect loss or damage sustained on account of breach of contract.

This bifurcation between damages towards losses, which naturally arise in the usual course of things (first limb) and losses that the parties knew, when they made the contract, to be likely to result from a breach of the contract (second limb), appears to be borrowed from the principle laid down in the celebrated English decision of Hadley v. Baxendale.[1] The first limb is popularly referred to as general damages, whilst the second limb is referred to as special damages i.e. additional loss caused by a breach on account of special circumstances, outside the ordinary course of things, which was in the contemplation of the parties.
Continue Reading Do parties have an unfettered right to exclude or limit their liability for breach of contract? – Part I

To Pay Rent or Not To Pay Rent - The Delhi High Court rejects plea for suspension of rent during lockdown

The COVID-19 outbreak and the resultant nationwide lockdown have severely impacted performance of obligations, whether contractual or otherwise, across the country. Most entities/individuals are exploring the option of pleading frustration of contract[1] or invoking force majeure[2] clauses to suspend or obtain a relaxation on their contractual obligations. In this post, we examine the recent decision in Ramanand & Ors. v. Dr. Girish Soni & Anr.,[3] where the Delhi High Court rejected an application for waiver or suspension of rent on account of the lockdown.
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FRUSTRATION (OF CONTRACT) IN THE TIME OF SARS-CoV-2

Overview

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared the novel coronavirus disease a pandemic. On the same day, the Government of India imposed visa and other travel restrictions. Soon thereafter, many states in India declared a ‘lockdown’, an emergency measure [under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897 and the Disaster Management Act, 2005 (“Disaster Management Act”)] to prevent and contain the spread of SARS-CoV-2, and also issued prohibitory order(s) under Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure, 1973. A stricter lockdown was then imposed by the Central Government, which will presently remain in effect till May 3, 2020. During the lockdown, whilst certain commercial activities have been classified as essential and are permitted to continue operations, subject to following preventive measures (including social distancing), several others remain stalled and suspended.
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Enforcement of Foreign Awards in India – Have the brakes been applied

In NAFED v. Alimenta S.A.,[1] the Supreme Court held a foreign award to be unenforceable, on the basis that the transaction contemplated would have violated Indian law, and was therefore contrary to the public policy of India. 

The narrow scope of public policy:

Over the last decade, the judiciary and the legislature have been at pains to change the .existing judicial discourse and legislative intent to make India a regional hub for arbitration. A logical corollary has been a concerted effort to minimise judicial interference. Particularly in the context of foreign awards (where even after a ruling of enforceability, actual recovery may take years), Indian courts have to the most part, refused to interfere.
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