The Supreme Court recently refused enforcement of a foreign award on the basis that it was contrary to the fundamental public policy of India. Although a recent decision, the dispute arose almost 40 years ago and thus pertains to an era which preceded the amendment of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. In its decision, the court analysed the concept of public policy and the difference between contingent contracts and frustration as a principle for voidability of contracts under the Contract Act.
If the parties to a contract fail to choose the applicable law, the task trickles down to the arbitral tribunal. This will be one of the first tasks required of an arbitral tribunal, as adjudication of a dispute is not possible until the applicable law has been determined. Further, the application of an incorrect law is a ground for setting aside an arbitral award. This article examines the role of an arbitral tribunal in determining the applicable law in arbitration proceedings.
The concepts of 'seat' and 'venue' in the context of arbitration law have been the subject of numerous landmark rulings in India. However, the test for distinguishing between these two concepts has yet to be settled under Indian law. In order to avoid confusion, inconvenience or conflicting decisions in the future, this issue must be referred to a larger bench of the Supreme Court as soon as possible for its final word on the matter.
The division bench of the Bombay High Court recently confirmed the legal position and the tests for determining whether a partial final award may be interpreted as an arbitral award under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. In so doing, it also clarified the position on the limitation period for challenging such an award.
Following the passing of amendments in 2015, the Arbitration and Conciliation Act specifically provides that arbitral tribunal orders which are passed under Section 17 of the act will be enforceable under the Code of Civil Procedure as if they were a court order. However, a party can take advantage of Section 17 only when the arbitration is seated in India, which raises questions as to the enforceability of interim measures granted by arbitral tribunals which are situated outside India.