Arbitration of Landlord and Tenant dispute if permissible?

Remedy of Arbitration:

Arbitration is a private dispute resolution mechanism whereby two or more parties agree to resolve their current or future disputes by an arbitral tribunal, as an alternative to adjudication by the courts or a public forum established by law. Parties by mutual agreement forgo their right in law to have their disputes adjudicated in the courts/public forum. Arbitration agreement gives contractual authority to the arbitral tribunal to adjudicate the disputes and bind the parties.

Dispute between lessor and lessee:

The tenancy in question was not protected under the rent control legislation and the rights and obligations were governed by the Transfer of Property Act.

Who will decide the arbitrability of dispute?

‘Who decides Arbitrability?’ can be crystallized as under:

(a) Ratio of the decision in Patel Engineering Ltd.on the scope of judicial review by the court while deciding an application under Sections 8 or 11 of the Arbitration Act, post the amendments by Act 3 of 2016(with retrospective effect from 23.10.2015) and even post the amendments vide Act 33 of 2019 (with effect from 09.08.2019), is no longer applicable.

(b) Scope of judicial review and jurisdiction of the court under Section 8 and 11 of the Arbitration Act is identical but extremely limited and restricted.

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Determination of seat of arbitration

Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 — Section 34:

There were a dispute between NHPC Ltd. and a foreign contractor, clause 67.3(vi) would have to be read as a clause designating the “seat” of arbitration, the same must follow even when sub-clause (vi) is to be read with sub-clause (i) of Clause 67.3, where the dispute between NHPC Ltd. would be with an Indian Contractor.

Territorial Jurisdiction:

The arbitration clause in the present case states that “Arbitration Proceedings shall be held at New Delhi/Faridabad, India…”, thereby signifying that all the hearings, including the making of the award, are to take place at one of the stated places. Negatively speaking, the clause does not state that the venue is so that some, or all, of the hearings take place at the venue; neither does it use language such as “the Tribunal may meet”, or “may hear witnesses, experts or parties”. The expression “shall be held” also indicates that the so-called “venue” is really the “seat” of the arbitral proceedings. The dispute is to be settled in accordance with the Arbitration Act, 1996 which, therefore, applies a national body of rules to the arbitration that is to be held either at New Delhi or Faridabad, given the fact that the present arbitration would be Indian and not international. It is clear, therefore, that even in such a scenario, New Delhi/Faridabad, India has been designated as the “seat” of the arbitration proceedings.

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Award of Interest by Arbitrator

The discretion of the arbitrator to award interest must be   exercised   reasonably.

An   arbitral   tribunal   while making   an   award   for   Interest   must   take   into  consideration a host of factors, such as:

(i) the ‘loss of use’  of   the   principal   sum;

(ii)   the   types   of   sums   to which the Interest must apply;

(iii) the time period over which   interest   should   be   awarded;

(iv)   the internationally prevailing rates of interest;

(v) whether simple or compound rate of interest is to be applied;

(vi)   whether   the   rate   of   interest   awarded   is commercially   prudent  from  an  economic  stand­point;

(vii)   the   rates   of   inflation,

(viii)   proportionality   of   the count   awarded   as   Interest   to   the   principal   sums awarded.

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Arbitration Clause referring to 1940 Act

Applicability of Arbitration Act, 1996.

What is material for the purposes of the applicability of 1996 Act is the agreement between the parties to refer the disputes to arbitration. If there be such an arbitration agreement which satisfies the requirements of Section 7 of 1996 Act, and if no arbitral proceeding had commenced before 1996 Act came into force, the matter would be completely governed by the provisions of 1996 Act. Any reference to 1940 Act in the arbitration agreement would be of no consequence and the matter would be referred to arbitration only in terms of 1996 Act consistent with the basic intent of the parties as discernible from the arbitration agreement to refer the disputes to arbitration. Continue reading “Arbitration Clause referring to 1940 Act”

Does Arbitration bars remedy under SARAFESI Act

Effect of Arbitration Clause.

Loan agreements contained arbitration clauses which were invoked by the appellant with the filing of cases under Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996. In view thereof, initiation of any other proceedings under the SARFAESI Act if impermissible in law?

Because arbitration is an alternative to the proceedings under the RDB Act, it would not be obligatory on the Bank/Financial Institution to withdraw the proceedings pending before the arbitrator, prior to resorting to secure its interest under the SARFAESI Act. The Bank/financial institution can simultaneously proceed before the Arbitral Tribunal for adjudication of disputes and also take recourse to Section 13 of the SARFAESI Act for enforcement of its security interest. Both the proceedings can continue parallel to each other. Continue reading “Does Arbitration bars remedy under SARAFESI Act”

Interpretation of Price Adjustment aka Price Escalation/Variation Clause

Judicial Review of Arbitration Award:

The main reason because of which the NHAI lost in those proceedings was that two possible interpretations could be given to the clause in question and, therefore, the recourse taken by the Arbitral Tribunal by adopting one particular interpretation was not required to be interfered with. SLP against that was dismissed. In a situation like this, this Court would not have undertaken further exercise in the matter. However, another Arbitral Tribunal in the case of M/s. Ssangyong Engineering and Construction Co. Ltd. has accepted the other view, which goes in favour of the NHAI. It leads to an anomalous situation. The NHAI has entered into multiple contracts with different parties containing the same clauses of price variation. Once we find that Arbitral Tribunals are taking different views, and the view taken in favour of the NHAI is also one of the possible interpretations, the effect thereof would be to uphold both kinds of awards even when they are conflicting in nature in respect of the same contractual provision. It may not be appropriate to countenance such a situation which needs to be remedied. Therefore, under this peculiar situation, we deem it proper to go into the exercise of interpreting the said clause so that there is a uniformity in the approach of the Arbitral Tribunals dealing with this particular dispute and a sense of certainty is attached in the outcomes. Continue reading “Interpretation of Price Adjustment aka Price Escalation/Variation Clause”

Judicial Notice of a well known fact in public knowledge

Judicial notice of Satyam Scam of inflated profits:

B. Ramalinga Raju, Chairman, Satyam Computer Services Ltd. wrote a letter admitting inflated profits an bank/cash balances in financial statements which was addressed to the board of directors, SEBI and financial institutions; if could be admitted in evidence without formal proof?

Conclusion of Supreme Court:

The aforesaid letter, its contents and signature of the author of the letter – Mr. Raju, were never in dispute and nor at any point of time anyone questioned it. In other words, the existence of letter, its contents and signature of Mr. Raju on the letter were never doubted and nor its author (Mr. Raju) at any point of time retracted from his confessional statement made therein or denied having written such letter.

In my opinion, therefore, the letter in question was rightly received in evidence without requiring any further formal proof to corroborate its existence and contents. That apart, it being a “notorious fact” being in the knowledge of the whole World and especially those in the trade, the Courts could take judicial notice of such evidence as held by this Court in the case of Onkar Nath & Ors. Vs. Delhi Administration, (1977) 2 SCC 611. It is appropriate to quote the words of the leaned Judge- Justice Y.V.Chandrachud (as His Lordship then was), who speaking for the Bench held as under: Continue reading “Judicial Notice of a well known fact in public knowledge”

Arbitration agreement prohibiting grant of interest

When the terms of the agreement had prohibited award of interest, the Arbitrator could not award interest for the pendente lite period.

Clause 13 (3) of the contract entered into between the parties read as under:

“13(3). No interest will be payable upon the earnest money and the security deposit or amounts payable to the contractor under the contract, but Government Securities deposited in terms of sub-clause(1) of this clause will be repayable with interest accrued thereon.”

It has been held thus: Continue reading “Arbitration agreement prohibiting grant of interest”

Arbitration clause does not bar jurisdiction of Rent Controller or Civil Court

Arbitration clause in lease deed does no bar suit for eviction

Can tenant invoke arbitration clause in the face of civil suit by landlord:

In the light of the foregoing discussion and the authority of the precedents, we hold that both by reason of Section 28 of the Bombay Rents, Hotel and Lodging House Rates Control Act, 1947 and by reason of the broader considerations of public policy mentioned by us earlier and also in Deccan Merchants Cooperative Bank Ltd. v. Dalichand Jugraj Jain, the Court of Small Causes has and the arbitrator has not the jurisdiction to decide the question whether the respondent-licensor landlord is entitled to seek possession of the two Studios and other premises together with machinery and equipment from the appellant-licensee tenant. That this is the real dispute between the parties is abundantly clear from the petition filed by the respondents in the High Court of Bombay, under Section 8 of the Arbitration Act seeking a reference to Arbitration. The petition refers to the notices exchanged by the parties, the respondent calling upon the appellant to hand over possession of the Studios to him and the appellant claiming to be a tenant or protected licensee in respect of the Studios. The relationship between the parties being that of licensor-landlord and licensee tenant and the dispute between them relating to the possession of the licensed demised premises, there is no help from the conclusion that the Court of Small Causes alone has the jurisdiction and the arbitrator has none to adjudicate upon the dispute between the parties.”

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Multiple arbitration agreements between same parties

Expediency of one Arbitration Tribunal instead of multiple Tribunals

The amended Section 11 of Arbitration Act, 1996 reads as under:-

“11. Appointment of arbitrators.- (1) A person of any nationality may be an arbitrator, unless otherwise agreed by the parties.
(2) Subject to sub-section (6), the parties are free to agree on a procedure for appointing the arbitrator or arbitrators.

(3) Failing any agreement referred to in sub-section (2), in an arbitration with three arbitrators, each party shall appoint one arbitrator, and the two appointed arbitrators shall appoint the third arbitrator who shall act as the presiding arbitrator.

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