Big win for Amazon in Future deal

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, August 6

The Supreme Court on Friday ruled that Singapore’s Emergency Arbitrator (EA) award restraining the Rs 24,731-crore merger deal of Future Retail Ltd (FRL) with Reliance Retail was valid and enforceable under Indian arbitration laws.

Delivered by a Bench led by Justice RF Nariman, the verdict came as a victory for US-based e-commerce giant Amazon that has been fighting a bitter legal battle over the deal. Amazon wanted the EA award to be declared valid and enforceable.

The top court also set aside the February 8 and March 22 orders of a Division Bench of the Delhi High Court that had lifted the stay ordered by a single-judge against the FRL-RRL merger.

FRL to pursue all available avenues

  • Future Retail Ltd (FRL) on Friday said it intends to pursue “all available avenues” to conclude its Rs24,731-crore deal with Reliance Industries
  • In a regulatory filing, FRL said the SC judgment “addresses two limited points related to the enforceability of the Emergency Arbitrator’s order and not the merits of the disputes”

There were two issues — whether an ‘award’ by an EA under the Arbitration Rules of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) can be said to be an award under Arbitration and Conciliation Act and whether an order passed under Section 17(2) of the Arbitration Act in enforcement of the award of an Emergency Arbitrator by a single judge of the High Court was appealable.

“We…answer the first question by declaring that full party autonomy is given by the Arbitration Act to have a dispute decided in accordance with institutional rules which can include Emergency Arbitrators delivering interim orders, described as “awards”, it said in the verdict.

On the second issue, it said “that no appeal lies under Section 37 of the Arbitration Act against an order of enforcement of an Emergency Arbitrator’s order made under Section 17(2) of the Act. As a result, all interim orders of this Court stand vacated. The impugned judgments of the Division Bench, dated 8th February, 2021 and 22nd March, 2021, are set aside. The appeals are disposed of accordingly.”

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