Tag Archives: Commercial Dispute

Appointment of Arbitrator – Applicability of Article 137 of Limitation Act

It is not in dispute that Article 137 of the Limitation Act would apply to applications filed under Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. In Major (Retd.) Inder Singh Rekhi v. DDA, (1998) 2 SCC 338, the Hon’ble Apex Court held that in application for appointment of arbitrator Article 137 of the Limitation Act will apply.

       Article 137 of the Limitation Act, 1963 is applicable to applications both under Civil Procedure Code and under the Special Acts. Article 137 constitutes the residuary Article in regard to applications. The starting point of limitation under Article 137 is the date when “the right to apply arises”. Article 137 being a residuary Article to be adopted to different classes of applications, the expression “the right to apply” is expression of a broad common law principle and it has to be interpreted according to the circumstances of each case. In Ramanna v. Nallaparaju, 1995 (2) SCR 936, the Hon’ble Apex Court has held that “the right to apply” means “the right to apply first arises”.

       Under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, right to apply to the Court having jurisdiction would arise from the date such controversy arises between the parties. Central Electronics Limited v. Friends Cable Industries, Noida, 2017 (125) ALR 588.

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Non-Arbitrable Disputes

Ordinarily every civil or commercial dispute whether based on contract or otherwise which is capable of being decided by a Civil Court is in principle capable of being adjudicated upon and resolved by arbitration “subject to the dispute being governed by the arbitration agreement” unless the jurisdiction of the Arbitral Tribunal is excluded either expressly or by necessary implication.
In Booz-Allen and Hamilton Inc. v. SBI Home Finance Ltd., (2011) 5 SCC 532, the Hon’ble Apex Court set down certain examples of non-arbitrable disputes such as:
(a) Disputes relating to rights and liabilities which give rise to or arise out of criminal offences;
(b) Matrimonial Disputes relating to divorce, judicial separation, restitution of conjugal rights and child custody;
(c) Matters of Guardianship;
(d) Insolvency and Winding Up.
(e) Testamentary matters, such as the grant of probate, letters of administration and succession certificates; and
(f) Eviction or tenancy matters governed by special statutes where a tenant enjoys special protection against eviction and specific courts are conferred with the exclusive jurisdiction to deal with the dispute.
(g) The enforcement of a mortgage has been held to be a right in rem for which proceedings in arbitration would not be maintainable. In Vimal Kishore Shah v. Jayesh Dinesh Shah, 2016 (119) ALR 428, the Hon’ble Apex Court added a seventh category of cases, namely, disputes relating to trusts, trustees and beneficiaries arising out of a trust deed and Trust Act.

In Skypak Courier Ltd.v. Tata Chemicals Ltd., 2000 (40) ALR 255, it was held that the existence of an arbitration clause will not be a bar to the entertainment of a complaint by a forum under the Consumer Protection Act, 1986, since the remedy provided under the law is in addition to the provisions of any other law for the time being in force. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. v. Kamalkant Automobiles, 2017 (123) ALR 369.

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Arbitration Agreement – Need Not be Signed by All the Parties

Section 7(3) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act provides that the arbitration agreement shall be in writing, which is a mandatory requirement. Section 7(4) states that the arbitration agreement shall be in writing, if it is a document signed by all the parties. But a perusal of clauses (b) and (c) of Section 7(4) would show that a written document which may not be signed by the parties even then it can be arbitration agreement. Section 7(4)(b) provides that an arbitration agreement can be culled out from an exchange of letters, telex, telegrams or other means of telecommunication which provide a record of the agreement. Govind Rubber Limited v. Louis Dreyfus Commodities Asia Private Limited, (2015) 13 SCC 477.

In Rukmanbai Gupta v. Collector, (1980) 4 SCC 556, Hon’ble Supreme Court held that Arbitration agreement is not required to be in any particular form. What is required to be ascertained is whether the parties have agreed that if the dispute arises between them in respect of the subject matter of contract, such dispute shall be referred to arbitration, then such an arrangement would spell out an arbitration agreement.

Section 7(4) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act defines an agreement to be an arbitration agreement is in writing if it contained (a) a document signed by the parties; (b) an exchange of letters, telex, telegrams or other means of telecommunication [including communication through electronic means] which provide a record of the agreement; or (c) an exchange of statements of claim and defence in which the existence of the agreement is alleged by one party and not denied by the other.

Thus, it can be safely concluded that an arbitration agreement need not be signed by the parties if the record of the agreement is provided by exchange of letters, telex, telegrams or other means of telecommunication. Sub-section 4(c) of Section 7 of the Act provides that there can be an exchange of statements of claim and defence in which the existence of the agreement is alleged by one party and not denied by the other. Due to development of Science and Technology, the statutory recognition of agreement in circumstances mentioned in clauses (b) and (c) of Section 7(4) of the Act, can be easily understood in the present day of E-commerce and internet purchases, tele purchases, ticket booking on internet where agreements are entered in standard forms of contract and terms and conditions are agreed upon. In such agreement, if the identity of the parties is established and there is a record of agreement and if there is an Arbitration clause showing that parties are ad-idem, then the signature is not a mandatory requirement under clauses (b) and (c) of sub-section (4) of the Act or under sub-section (5) of Section 7 of the Act. M/s Blue Star Ltd. v. M/s Z-Square Shopping Mall Pvt. Ltd., 2018 (129) ALR 836.

 

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Quashing of Complaints – Principles of

The principles relating to exercise of jurisdiction under Section 482 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to quash complaints and criminal proceedings are:
(i) A complaint can be quashed where the allegations made in the complaint, even if they are taken at their face value and accepted in their entirety, do not prima facie constitute any offence or make out the case alleged against the accused.
For this purpose, the complaint has to be examined as a whole, but without examining the merits of the allegations. Neither a detailed inquiry nor a meticulous analysis of the material nor an assessment of the reliability or genuineness of the allegations in the complaint, is warranted while examining prayer for quashing of a complaint.
(ii) A complaint may also be quashed where it is a clear abuse of the process of the court, as when the criminal proceeding is found to have been initiated with mala fides/malice for wreaking vengeance or to cause harm or where the allegations are absurd and inherently improbable.
(iii) The power to quash shall not, however, be used to stifle or scuttle a legitimate prosecution. The power should be used sparingly and with abundant caution.
(iv) The complaint is not required to verbatim reproduce the legal ingredients of the offence alleged. If the necessary factual foundation is laid in the complaint, merely on the ground that a few ingredients have not been stated in detail, the proceedings should not be quashed. Quashing of the complaint is warranted only where the complaint is so bereft of even the basic facts which are absolutely necessary for making out the offence.
(v) A given set of facts may make out: (a) purely a civil wrong; or (b) purely a criminal offence; or (c) a civil wrong as also a criminal offence. A commercial transaction or a contractual dispute, apart from furnishing a cause of action for seeking remedy in civil law, may also involve a criminal offence. As the nature and scope of a civil proceeding are different from a criminal proceeding, the mere fact that the complaint relates to a commercial transaction or breach of contract, for which a civil remedy is available or has been availed, is not by itself a ground to quash the criminal proceedings. The test is whether the allegations in the complaint disclose a criminal offence or not.” Binod Kumar v. State of Bihar, (2014) 10 SCC 663.

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