Delhi High Court dismisses Future Group’s plea for termination of Amazon arbitration

Two Future Group arbitration petitions dismissed by the Delhi HC

Two Future Group arbitration petitions dismissed by the Delhi HC
Two Future Group arbitration petitions dismissed by the Delhi HC

Delhi HC refuses to interfere in the arbitration proceeding

The Delhi High Court on Tuesday dismissed two Future Group‘s pleas seeking a direction to the arbitration tribunal, adjudicating Amazon‘s objections against Future Group’s deal with Reliance, to take a decision on their application for terminating the arbitration proceedings before moving any further. “Both the petitions are dismissed,” said Justice Amit Bansal, who had reserved the order on January 3 on the petitions filed by Future Coupons Private Limited (FCPL) and Future Retail Limited (FRL). The judge said it was not for the court to interfere with the scheduling of the arbitration proceedings and no grounds for interference were made out in the present petitions.

He said the tribunal has already fixed January 8 as the date for hearing the termination application after cutting short the scheduled four days’ hearing of the expert witnesses. Rejecting FRL’s contention that the tribunal was violating the principle of equal opportunities, the court opined that in its prima facie view, there was nothing to suggest this or that the tribunal was not accommodative towards their requests. This court finds no infirmity in the decision of the Arbitral Tribunal in not postponing the hearings of the expert witnesses scheduled in January 2022, the order said.

“In the opinion of this Court, acceding to such a request for adjournment is bound to derail the arbitration proceedings as it would be very inconvenient and cumbersome to schedule fresh dates for the arbitration proceedings, taking into account the availability of all arbitrators as well as the experts,” the Court said in its 21-page order. “There is nothing to suggest that the Arbitral Tribunal has denied equal opportunity to the parties or that the Arbitral Tribunal has not been accommodating towards requests of the petitioners,” it added.

The Court also stated that lawyers representing the petitioners testing positive for COVID-19 cannot be a ground to postpone the arbitral hearings, the dates of which were fixed a long time ago after taking into account the convenience of the parties and giving ample time to prepare.

Amazon and Future have been locked in a bitter legal tussle after the US e-commerce giant dragged Future Group to arbitration at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) in October 2020, arguing that FRL had violated their contract by entering into a deal for the sale of its assets to billionaire Mukesh Ambani‘s Reliance Retail on a slump sale basis for Rs.24,500 crore.

Several issues arising from the Amazon-Future legal battle are pending before the Supreme Court. The tussles started after Future Group left Amazon after into deal and ventured to the big offer from Mukesh Ambani headed Reliance Group.

[with PTI inputs]

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