has sought setting aside of the observations since they have a bearing on its case in arbitration proceedings that were initiated before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC).
Amazon, which was represented by senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, submitted that after the single judge concluded in favour of the validity of the emergency award (EA), the suit filed by FRL could not have been held to be maintainable.
He said FRL was heard by an emergency arbitrator who came to the conclusion that FRL was a necessary and proper party to the arbitration, according to the law platform Bar & Bench.
In response, senior advocate Harish Salve, counsel for FRL, said: “We have a serious objection. At least now Amazon is acknowledging that the matter went against it.”
Amazon in its appeal in Delhi HC contended that the single judge passed the impugned order on December 21, 2020, refusing to grant any interim relief to FRL. It said the single judge further correctly upheld the validity of the EA. However, having held that the EA order was valid and after noting that the merits of the EA were not being challenged, the single judge made certain prima-facie observations, which were inconsistent with the findings contained in the EA order. In the appeal, Amazon also said the prima-facie observations contained in the impugned order effectively resulted in allowing FRL to collaterally bypass the EA.
The court has issued notice in the matter and listed it for further hearing on February 12.
In August 2020, Future Group
struck a $3.4-billion asset sale deal with Reliance Industries (RIL). Amazon then sent a legal notice to Future, alleging the retailer’s deal breached an agreement with the American e-commerce giant.
In December 2020, the Delhi HC refused to restrain Amazon from interfering in FRL’s deal with Reliance Retail
by writing to the statutory authorities. The order was pronounced by a single judge Bench in the suit by FRL after an EA of the SIAC restrained Future Group
from taking any steps in furtherance of the transaction with Reliance Retail.
The Delhi HC, prima facie, found that the suit filed by FRL was maintainable, the EA was valid, and that FRL’s resolution approving the transaction with Reliance was also valid. The court opined that it was ‘a matter of trial’ to determine whether Amazon’s case outweighed FRL’s claim and for now, it was for the statutory authorities (or) regulators to come to their own right conclusion.
In other development, the next phase of arbitration proceedings between Amazon and Future Group is expected to begin soon in Singapore. Singaporean barrister Michael Hwang has joined the three-member arbitration tribunal at the SIAC that is looking into the Amazon and Future Group dispute over the latter’s $3.4-billion deal with RIL. The other two members of the tribunal include Albert van den Berg and Jan Paulsson — they were proposed by Amazon and Future, respectively.
Legal expert Gopal Jain, senior advocate, Supreme Court, said under Indian law, when there is an arbitration agreement between the parties, disputes arising under the contract have to be settled through arbitration.
“If parties have prescribed institutional arbitration, it will be decided under the aegis of that institution,” said Jain, adding, “If a party raises a dispute which is arbitrable, then under Section 8 of the Act, on an application, the court has the power to refer the subject to arbitration and can play a supportive and facultative role. This will be in line with the contractually agreed dispute resolution mechanism.”
K Narasimhan, advocate, Madras HC, said the court agreeing to hear the matter is a positive step for the Indian Arbitration Act itself.
“The ruling in this matter will play a role in enforcing belief in arbitration as a chosen mode of redress,” said Narasimhan, adding, “In cases like these, the court’s directive for the parties is to go to an arbitrator if that has been agreed as part of the contract.”
Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.
We, however, have a request.
As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.
Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.