4 April 2022 3:46 PM GMT
Amazon and Future Retail Ltd on Monday expressed their agreement before the Supreme Court to appear before the Singapore Arbitration Tribunal. They further expressed their wish to have the arbitration proceedings expedited.The development happened in the special leave petition filed by Amazon challenging the Delhi High Court's order which stayed the arbitration proceedings on a challenge made...
Amazon and Future Retail Ltd on Monday expressed their agreement before the Supreme Court to appear before the Singapore Arbitration Tribunal. They further expressed their wish to have the arbitration proceedings expedited.
The development happened in the special leave petition filed by Amazon challenging the Delhi High Court's order which stayed the arbitration proceedings on a challenge made by FRL. It has been the case of FRL that it is not covered by the arbitration agreement as Amazon's deal was with Future Coupons Private Ltd (FCPL).
"It is stated and agreed by both the parties that they wish to appear before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and request that the proceedings, pending adjudication before it, be expedited on the issues agreed upon between them", the order passed by the bench led by the Chief Justice of India recorded.
The bench has directed the parties to file a joint-memo to this effect and adjourned the hearing to April 6.
Previously, the bench led by the Chief Justice of India had urged both the parties to try to settle their dispute over the FRL's deal with the Reliance group. However, the talks failed. Later, Amazon moved an application seeking to restrain Future group alleging that it was handing over its stores to Reliance in violation of the injunction orders passed by the arbitration tribunal. On the other hand, Future group contended that the shop-leases got terminated as it was cash-strapped and the landlords handed over the properties to Mukesh Dhirubhai Ambani (MDA) Group. Refuting this, Amazon alleged that Future Group and Reliance were acting in collusion. Amid the series of allegations and counter-allegations, both the parties have now agreed to get the issue resolved before the Singapore Tribunal itself at the earliest.
Today, the bench comprising CJI NV Ramana, Justice Krishan Murari and Hima Kohli did not pass orders on Amazon's injunction application and instead asked it to pursue the matter before the Delhi High Court.
During the hearing, the bench also expressed displeasure at the parties filing voluminous documents in the case.
"Please don't take advantage of these proceedings to solve all your problems. You just keep filing and dumping papers on papers", the CJI said.
The bench made the observation in response to submission made by Senior Advocate Harish Salve appearing for Future Retail Ltd that Amazon has filed a new memo making new averments of facts and seeking new reliefs.
"This is a small issue and you are going beyond the issues. Both the sides. You file 30 pages, he files 30 pages, whats the scope of this litigation? This is on a small issue. This was on small issue of injunction. You just keep filing and dumping papers on papers". CJI Ramana said addressing counsels for both parties.
Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium appeared for Amazon.
The Court was on last occasion informed that the resumption of arbitration is common ground for both the parties and they are interested in resuming the arbitration proceedings The Bench had then asked both parties to file a memo submitting that they agree to go ahead with the arbitration before the Tribunal so it can be recorded and the court may pass an order disposing of the special leave petition. After memos were submitted by both parties, the Bench today directed them to file a joint memo instead.
The Apex Court was hearing a special leave petition filed by Amazon against Delhi High Court's order staying further arbitration proceedings before the Singapore Tribunal against Future Group.
The impunged order of the division bench also stayed the Single Judge order which had dismissed Future Group's plea challenging the two orders passed by the Singapore Arbitration Tribunal which deferred the hearing in Future's plea seeking termination of the arbitration proceedings instituted by Amazon.
The High Court had also issued notice on the two appeals filed by Future Retail Ltd. and Future Coupons Pvt. Ltd. impugning the said Single Judge order and made it returnable on February 1, 2022.
Before the High Court, Future Group in its plea had placed reliance on an order passed by the Competition Commission of India on December 17, 2021, which had kept the approval granted for Amazon's deal with Future Group in abeyance.
Before the Supreme Court, Amazon has argued that the impugned interim order injuncting an ongoing international commercial arbitration seated in New Delhi under SIAC Rules presided over by a distinguished Arbitral Tribunal and involving parties and experts from across the world is strikingly contrary to the provisions, intent and purpose of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act which emphasises party autonomy and minimum judicial interference.
Single Judge's Observations
The Court was of the view that just because the hearing of the termination application was scheduled for a date after the hearing of the expert witnesses, it did not mean that the Arbitral Tribunal was not willing to consider the said applications on merits or was discounting the merits of the said applications.
The Court further noted that prima facie, there was nothing to suggest that the Arbitral Tribunal denied equal opportunity to the parties or that the Arbitral Tribunal was not accommodating towards requests made by the Future Group.
Case Title: Amazon.com NV InvestmentHoldings LLC vs Future Coupons Private Limited & Ors, Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC vs Future Retail Ltd & Or
Click here to read/download the order