Tag Archives: dispute

Determination or Order

        The word “determination” has to be contextually determined. In Ashok Leyland Ltd. v. State of T.N., (2004) 3 SCC 1, the Hon’ble Apex Court has reproduced the definition of “determination” from Law Lexicon, 2nd Edition by P. Ramanatha Iyer and Black’s Law Dictionary, 6th Edition. It reads thus:

        “Determination or order.—The expression “determination” signifies an effective expression of opinion which ends a controversy or a dispute by some authority to whom it is submitted under a valid law for disposal. The expression “order” must have also a similar meaning, except that it need not operate to end the dispute. Determination or order must be judicial or quasi – judicial. Jaswant Sugar Mills Ltd. v. Lakshmi Chand, AIR 1963 SC 677.

        A “determination” is a final judgment for purposes of appeal when the Trial Court has completed its adjudication of the rights of the parties in the action. Thomas Van Dyken Joint centure v. Van Dyken, 27 NW 2d 459.

          The said test clearly means that the expression of determination signifies an expressive opinion. Union of India v. Hardy Exploration and Production (India) Inc., 2019 (132) ALR 263.

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Appointment of Arbitrator – Arbitrability of Dispute

In Booz Allen and Hamnilton Inc. v. S.B.I. Home Finance Ltd., (2011) 5 SCC 532, Hon’ble Supreme Court considered the arbitrability of dispute and scope of Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act and held as under:

       “The nature and scope of issues arising for consideration in an application under Section 11 of the act for appointment of arbitrators, are far narrower than those arising in an application under Section 8 of the Act, seeking reference of the parties to a suit to arbitration. While considering an application under Section 11 of the Act, the Chief Justice or his designate would not embark upon an examination of the issue of “arbitrability” or appropriateness of adjudication by a private forum, once he finds that there was an arbitration agreement between or among the parties, and would leave the issue of arbitrability for the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal. If the arbitrator wrongly holds that the dispute is arbitrabe, the aggrieved party will have to challenge the award by filing an application, under Section 34 of the Act, relying upon sub-section 2(b)(i) of that Section.”
       In Dura Felguera, S.A. v. Gangavaram Port Ltd., (2017) 9 SCC 729, Hon’ble Supreme Court considered the provisions of sub-section (6) and sub-section (6A) of Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and held as under:

       “From a reading of Section 11(6A), the intention of the legislature is quite clear, i.e. the court should and need only look into one aspect – the existence of an arbitration agreement. What are the factors for deciding as to whether there is an arbitration agreement is the next question. The resolution to that is simple – it needs to be seen if the agreement contains a clause which provides for arbitration pertaining to the disputes which have arisen between the parties to the agreement.” Swatantra Properties (P) Ltd. v. Airplaza Retail Holdings Pvt. Ltd., 2018 (5) AWC 5168.

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Existence of Dispute

The expression “existence” has been understood as follows:

“Shorter Oxford English Dictionary gives the following meaning of the word “existence”:

  • Reality, as opp. to appearance.
  • The fact or state of existing; actual possession of being. Continued being as a living creature, life, esp. under adverse conditions.

Something that exists; an entity, a being. All that exists.

Two extremely instructive judgments, one of the Australian High Court, and the other of the Chancery Division in the UK, throw a great deal of light on the expression “existence of a dispute” contained in Section 8(2)(a) of the Insolvency and Bankruptcy Code, 2016. The Australian judgment is reported as Spencer Constructions Pty. Ltd. v. G & M Aldridge Pty Ltd., 1997 FCA 681 (Aust).

The expression “genuine dispute” was held to mean the following:

“Finn, J. was content to adopt the explanation of “genuine dispute” given to McLelland, C.J. Eq in Eyota Pty Ltd.v. Hanave Pty Ltd., (1994) 12 ACSR 785 (Aust)  wherein it was held as under:

‘The expression connotes a plausible contention requiring investigation, and raises much the same sort of considerations as the “serious question to be tried” criterion which arises on an application for an interlocutory injunction or for the extension or removal of a caveat. This does not mean that the court must accept uncritically as giving rise to a genuine dispute, every statement in an affidavit ‘however equivocal, lacking in precision, inconsistent with undisputed contemporary documents or other statements by the same deponent, or inherently and probable in itself, it may not be having ‘sufficient prima facie plausibility to merit further investigation as to its truth or a patently feeble argument or an assertion of facts unsupported by evidence.”

Reliance was placed on Rohalo Pharmaceutical Pty. Ltd. v. RP Scherer, (1994) 15 ACSR 347 (Aust), wherein it was held as under:

“The provisions of Sections 459-H(1) and (5) of the Corporations Law assume that the dispute and offsetting have an “objective” existence the genuineness of which is capable of being assessed. The word “genuine” is included in “genuine dispute” to sound a note of warning that the propounding of serious disputes and claims is to be expected but must be excluded from consideration.”

A “genuine” dispute requires that:

  • The dispute be bona fide and truly exist in fact;
  • The grounds for alleging the existence of a dispute are real and not spurious, hypothetical, illusory or misconceived.

In Hayes v. Hayes, 2014 EWHC 2694 (Ch) under the UK Insolvency Rules, it was held:

“It is clear that on the one hand, the court does not need to be satisfied that there is a good claim or even that it is a claim which is prima facie likely to succeed. In Bayoil S.A., In re, (1990) 1 WLR 147 (CA) it was held:

“The majority decided in that case that, shadowy as the cross claim was and improbable as the events said to support it seemed to be, there was just enough to make the principle work, namely, that it was right to have the matter tried out before the axe fell.”

On the other hand the court should be alert to detect wholly spurious claims merely being put forward by an unwilling debtor to raise what has been called “a cloud of objections.”

Section 5(6) of the Insolvency Code only deals with suits or arbitration proceedings which must “relate to” one of the three sub-clauses, either directly or indirectly. A dispute is said to exist, so long as there is a real dispute as to payment between the parties that would fall within the inclusive definition contained in Section 5(6). Mobilox Innovations Pvt. Ltd. v. Kirusa Software Pvt. Ltd., (2018) 1 SCC 353.

 

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Reference of Dispute – To Arbitration

Once there is an agreement between the parties to refer the disputes or differences arising out of the agreement to arbitration, and in case either party, ignoring the terms of the agreement, approaches the civil court and the other party, in terms of Section 8 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, moves the court for referring the parties to arbitration before the first statement on the substance of the dispute is filed, in view of the peremptory language of Section 8 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, it is obligatory for the court to refer the parties to Arbitration in terms of the agreement, as held in P. Anand Gajapathi Raju v. P.V.G. Raju, (2000) 4 SCC 539.
It was further explained in Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Ltd. v. Pinkcity Midway Petroleums, (2003) 6 SCC 503, thus:
“In cases where there is an arbitration clause in the agreement, it is obligatory for the court to refer the parties to arbitration in terms of their arbitration agreement and nothing remains to be decided in the original action after such an application is made except to refer the dispute to an arbitrator. Therefore, it is clear that if, as contended by a party in an agreement between the parties before the civil court, there is a clause for arbitration, it is mandatory for the civil court to refer the dispute to an arbitrator.”
In Magma Leasing and Finance Ltd. v. Potluri Madhavilata, (2009) 10 SCC 103, the position has been restated holding that no option is left to the court, once the prerequisite conditions of Section 8 are fully satisfied. Sundaram Finance Ltd. v. T. Thankam, (2015) 14 SCC 444.

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Superseded Contract –Survival of Arbitration clause

An arbitration clause in an agreement cannot survive if the agreement containing arbitration clause has been superseded/novated by a later agreement. The Hon’ble Apex Court in Union of India v. Kishori Lal Gupta and Bros., AIR 1959 SC 1362, examined the question whether an arbitration clause can be invoked in the case of a dispute under a superseded contract. The principle laid down is that if the contract is superseded by another, the arbitration clause, being a component part of the earlier contract, falls with it. But where the dispute is whether such contract is void ab initio, the arbitration clause cannot operate on those disputes, for its operative force depends upon the existence of the contract and its validity. Young Achievers, v. IMS Learning Resources Pvt. Ltd, (2013) 10 SCC 535.

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