Win for Future: Delhi HC stays arbitration proceedings in Singapore tribunal

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In a new development in the ongoing legal tussle between Amazon and Future Group, the Delhi High Court on Wednesday stayed further arbitration proceedings between the parties before the Singapore tribunal till February 1.

A bench, headed by Chief Justice D.N. Patel and comprising Justice Jyoti Singh, issued notice on the two appeals filed by Future Retail Ltd and Future Coupons Pvt Ltd. The notice has been made returnable on February 1.

The high court also stayed the single judge order, which dismissed the Future Group’s plea against the two orders passed by the tribunal. The Future Group had sought termination of the arbitration proceedings instituted by Amazon.

Citing the Competition Commission of India (CCI) order, the high court noted that there is a prima facie case made out in the favour of appellants. It further added that it will stay further proceedings of the tribunal till the next date of hearing.

Senior advocate Mukul Rohatgi, representing Future Coupons Pvt Ltd, cited the CCI order, which kept in abeyance the approval granted for Amazon’s deal with Future Group, and added since approval is gone, the agreement automatically loses its value. He argued that the single judge of the high court failed to appreciate the application and also the fact that the agreement will have no effect after the CCI’s order.

Senior advocate Gopal Subramanium, appearing for Amazon, submitted that it was not fair to say that tribunal was not taking cognissance of applications to terminate the arbitration proceedings.

On Tuesday, a single-judge bench of the Delhi High Court dismissed Future’s pleas seeking a direction to a Singapore tribunal to deal with its termination application in connection with deal with Amazon.

Justice Amit Bansal had reserved the orders on Monday after hearing on pleas filed by FRL and FCRL.

The Future Group moved the high court seeking direction for the Singapore tribunal to hear termination application ahead of the scheduled hearings in the arbitration case.

In December last year, the CCI had imposed a penalty of Rs 202 crore on Amazon and suspended its approval for the e-tailer’s deal with Future Coupons, a promoter firm of the group’s public listed company Future Retail Ltd, seeking more information. The Singapore tribunal had held that it could not accommodate its termination application ahead of the scheduled hearings on the main case.

Citing the CCI order, the Future Group argued the agreement which provided for the arbitration proceedings itself is rendered invalid and as such, the ongoing proceedings, too, would be irrelevant. Amazon opposed it, saying that arbitration and the underlying contract are independent of each other, and also cited legal options, such as appeals, available against the CCI order.

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