The “modification” conundrum: Sticking to the path of least interference – Part I

Introduction

In matters of arbitration, courts are ordinarily required to adopt a hands-off approach while scrutinizing arbitral awards. This jurisprudence has evolved to a point where minimal interference with awards is seemingly the principle guiding courts in India. Against this backdrop, the Supreme Court (“SC”) is going to consider the question whether the powers under Section 34 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (the “Act”), extend to the modification of arbitral awards or are limited only to the setting aside of arbitral awards. Central to this question is the role of the courts as envisaged under the Act. Continue Reading The “modification” conundrum: Sticking to the path of least interference – Part I

Big win for PSBs: SC upholds arbitral award awarding damages for breach of substitution agreement, asks state agency to compensate lenders in full

The Hon’ble Supreme Court vide an order dated December 01, 2023, dismissed Special Leave Petition (Civil) No. 19675 of 2023 (“SLP”), filed by Haryana State Industrial and Infrastructure Development Corporation (“HSIIDC”), a state government agency, against concurrent judgments of the Hon’ble Delhi High Court, upholding an arbitral award rendered in favour of a consortium of public sector banks, led by IDBI Bank Limited (“Senior Lenders”). The Ld. arbitral tribunal, comprising Hon’ble Justice (Retd.) R M Lodha, former Chief Justice of India, Hon’ble Justice (Retd.) K S P Radhakrishnan and Hon’ble Justice (Retd.) J Chelameswar (“Ld. Arbitral Tribunal”), finding favour with the case, pleaded on behalf of the Senior Lenders, awarded INR 1737.11 crore (plus additional interest and costs) as damages for HSIIDC’s breach of substitution agreement entered into between the Senior Lenders, HSIIDC and M/s KMP Expressways Limited, i.e. the concessionaire (“KMP”/ “Concessionaire”) (“Arbitral Award”).Continue Reading Big win for PSBs: SC upholds arbitral award awarding damages for breach of substitution agreement, asks state agency to compensate lenders in full

An Analysis of Limitation for Appointment of Arbitrator Under Section 11 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996

Introduction

In order to foster quick resolution, efficiency and flexibility are the cornerstones of arbitration. The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“the Act”) [1], provides for strict limitations at most stages of the arbitral process. Naturally, Section 11 with its glaring lack of prescribed limitation at the stage of appointment appears conspicuous and almost at odds with the scheme of the Act.Continue Reading An Analysis of Limitation for Appointment of Arbitrator Under Section 11 of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996

Extension of Mandate of Arbitral Tribunal under Section 29A(4) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996: A Primer for Practitioners

INTRODUCTION

Section 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”), inserted vide theAmending Act of 2015 (w.e.f. 23.10.2015), was meant to introduce time limit for completion of arbitration proceedings. It prescribed a statutory period of 12 (twelve) months from the date the arbitral tribunal enters upon reference. Thereafter, vide the Amending Act of 2019 (w.e.f. 30.08.2019), the prescribed time limit was modified, and the Act required arbitration proceedings to be completed within 12 (twelve) months from the date of completion of pleadings. Further, sub-section (3) of Section 29A of the Act allows an extension of 6 (six) months by mutual consent of the parties for passing the award. Similarly, sub-section (4) of Section 29A of the Act provides that in the event the award is not passed in terms of Section 29A(1) or within the extended period of Section 29A(3), the parties can make an application to the court for extension of mandate of the arbitral tribunal.Continue Reading Extension of Mandate of Arbitral Tribunal under Section 29A(4) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996: A Primer for Practitioners

Extension under Section 29A of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 not a possibility if application for extension is not made while mandate subsisted

The Hon’ble Calcutta High Court in Rohan Builders (India) Pvt. Ltd v Berger Paints India Limited 2023 SCC OnLine Cal 2645 recently deliberated on the issue of whether Courts can extend an arbitral tribunal’s mandate under Section 29A(4) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“the Act”), after the mandate of the arbitral tribunal has been terminated.Continue Reading Extension under Section 29A of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 not a possibility if application for extension is not made while mandate subsisted

The Bombay High Court was recently called upon to decide an application filed by Anupam Mittal (“Applicant”), the founder of shaadi.com, seeking to restrain Westbridge Ventures II Investment Holdings and other directors of People Interactive (India) Private Limited (“Respondents”) from enforcing an anti-suit injunction granted by the High Court of Singapore. The anti-suit injunction restrained the Applicant from proceeding with his oppression and mismanagement petition before the National Company Law Tribunal (“NCLT”) on the ground that parties had agreed to resolve their disputes via arbitration seated in Singapore and disputes pertaining to oppression and mismanagement were arbitrable under Singapore law.Continue Reading Party Autonomy Restrained? Dissecting Bombay High Court’s Anti-Enforcement Injunction Order in Anupam Mittal v. People Interactive (India) Pvt. Ltd.

EXISTENCE AND VALIDITY OF AN ARBITRATION CLAUSE: A DEEP DIVE INTO THE CHANGING PERSPECTIVE ON THE COURT’S INTERVENTION AT THE PRE-ARBITRAL STAGE: PART-II

Duro revalidated in Mayavati Trading

The Supreme Court in a three-Judge Bench decision of Mayavati Trading (P) Ltd. v. Pradyuat Deb Burman[i] (“Mayavati Trading”), considered the impending omission of Section 11(6A) of the Act vide the Amendment Act of 2019. It was conclusively stated that Section 11(6A) is confined to the examination of the existence of an arbitration agreement and is to be understood in the narrow sense as has been laid down in Duro. The Supreme Court also expressly overruled Antique Exports, recognising that its reasoning relied on the pre-amended position, i.e., before Amendment Act of 2015 introduced Section 11(6A).Continue Reading Existence and Validity of an Arbitration Clause: A Deep Dive into the Changing Perspective on the Court’s Intervention at the Pre-Arbitral Stage: Part 2

[PART I]

The question of the Court’s intervention at the time of constitution of an arbitral tribunal underwent a seminal shift in India in 2016. This shift was brought about by the insertion of Section 11(6A)[i] in the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“Act”) through the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015, No. 3 of 2016 (“Amendment Act of 2015”). The introduction of Section 11(6A) limited the Court’s role at the juncture of appointment of arbitrators. The Courts sole task now was to determine whether an arbitration agreement ‘existed’ or not. Thus, inquiries  related to ‘validity’ of an arbitration agreement were to be decided by an arbitral tribunal itself,  which had the powers to rule on its own jurisdiction under Section 16 of the Act (a provision conforming to the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, 1985).Continue Reading Existence and Validity of An Arbitration Clause: A Deep Dive into the Changing Perspective on the Court’s Intervention at the Pre-Arbitral Stage: Part 1

CONSTRUCTION ARBITRATION AND THE NUMBERS GAME: 
AN ANALYSIS OF THE DELHI HIGH COURT’S RECENT DECISION IN SATLUJ V. JP

A civil construction dispute is invariably a smorgasbord of contentious issues like price escalation, variation in quantities and/or costs, force majeure events and technical hindrances. Given the complex nature of a construction dispute and the claims involved, arbitration is increasingly becoming the preferred choice of parties as an ADR mechanism because of the flexibility and effectiveness it offers. However, the arbitrator(s) in such disputes must wear the hat of a legal interpreter, economist and a mathematician, a vocation few will be envious of.Continue Reading CONSTRUCTION ARBITRATION AND THE NUMBERS GAME: AN ANALYSIS OF THE DELHI HIGH COURT’S RECENT DECISION IN SATLUJ V. JP

The Hon’ble Delhi High Court in M/s Arupri Logistics Pvt. Ltd v Shri Vilas Gupta & Ors.[i], has held that an arbitral tribunal, in the absence of any specific power to implead, does not have the authority or jurisdiction to implead parties to arbitral proceedings. The power to implead cannot be inferred from Sections 16, 17 or 19 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (“the Act”). Further, the arbitral tribunal does not have any residual inherent powers under the Act either, which enables it to implead third parties in the interest of justice. The Hon’ble Court noted that the arbitral tribunal owes its origin principally to well recognised and identifiable sources such as the agreement between the parties, institutional rules or national statutes, therefore, the parties or the tribunal cannot vest itself with powers that are otherwise reserved to be exercised by courts and judicial institutions.Continue Reading Consent is King: Delhi HC Holds that Arbitral Tribunal Lacks Authority to Implead Third Parties