Expeditious Trial of Commercial Suits

Object of Commercial Courts:

Though the Legislature, by enacting the Commercial Courts Act, 2015, intended expeditious disposal of suits which qualify as a commercial suits thereunder, but it is found that in most of the commercial suits, applications as this, for delayed filing of documents or for condonation of delay in taking requisite steps in such suits, are being filed and which were envisaged by the Commercial Courts Act when fixing the timelines for disposal of such cases, to be an exception rather than norm.

Duty of all stakeholders:

The effort to expedite, endeavoured by the Commercial Courts Act, cannot be only by the Courts, as appears to be understood, but must be by all the stakeholders i.e. litigants as well as the counsels. They are required to pay extra attention to,

(a) making precise / concise pleadings spelling out basis of claim or defence and to avoid making unnecessary pleas, which add to length of pleadings and ultimately lead to unnecessary issues being framed, evidence being led, which has no relevance at the time of final adjudication;

(b) documents they are required to file in support of their claim or defence and/or to disprove the claim / defence of other, specially at the time of filing pleadings, to avoid filing of applications as these;

(c) at the outset only, prepare a entire blue print of their case / defence, including of witnesses to be examined, by studying the law and judgments on the subject controversy, including the arguments to be ultimately addressed; it is often found that the parties / counsels themselves, owing to lack of attention / such strategy, understand their own claim / defence, as the litigation unfolds, instead of before penning their respective pleadings; the same leads to a plethora of applications being filed, to make up the lacunas/deficiencies in their own case/defence, learnt during the course of trial, adding to the length of time for adjudication;

Specific and precise issues:

(d) the stage of framing of issues, with omnibus issues with respect to reliefs claimed being proposed and vagueness whereof permits all kinds of evidence being led; the issues are expected to guide the trial, with all knowing precisely what is required to be proved and on non- proof whereof consequences shall follow.

Reply to interim application:

It is also found that whenever applications are filed, the opposite party / counsel, out of habit, while appearing on advance notice, seek time for filing reply. Most of such interim applications need no reply. Moreover, the law on various aspects which come up for consideration in such interim applications, is by and large settled and any counsel worth his salt knows the outcome of such applications. In such situations, no time should be permitted to be wasted on such applications and if the counsel knows that the application, even after reply and arguments would be allowed, should consent thereto. Else, the Commercial Courts Act, insofar as aimed at expediting disposal, will remain a piece of legislation only on paper.

[Source: VIFOR (INTERNATIONAL) LTD. v. SUVEN LIFE SCIENCES LTD. decided by Delhi High Court on 11 March 2019]

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