16 August 2022


Supreme Court

Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC vs. Future Retail Limited and Ors.




Emergency arbitrator’s award is enforceable under Section 17(2) of the Arbitration Act

In present case, proceedings were initiated by the Appellant, Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings LLC ["Amazon"] before the High Court under Section 17(2) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (Arbitration Act) to enforce the award dated 25th October, 2020 of an Emergency Arbitrator.

Two significant questions arise in present appeals – first, as to whether an “award” delivered by an Emergency Arbitrator under the Arbitration Rules of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre [“SIAC Rules”] can be said to be an order under Section 17(1) of the Arbitration Act; and second, whether an order passed under Section 17(2) of the Arbitration Act in enforcement of the award of an Emergency Arbitrator by a learned Single Judge of the High Court is appealable.

An Emergency Arbitrator’s “award”, i.e., order, would undoubtedly be an order which furthers these very objectives, i.e., to decongest the court system and to give the parties urgent interim relief in cases which deserve such relief. An Emergency Arbitrator’s order, which is exactly like an order of an arbitral tribunal once properly constituted, in that parties have to be heard and reasons are to be given, would fall within the institutional rules to which the parties have agreed, and would consequently be covered by Section 17(1) of the Act, when read with the other provisions of the Act.

A party cannot be heard to say, after it participates in an Emergency Award proceeding, having agreed to institutional rules made in that regard, that thereafter it will not be bound by an Emergency Arbitrator’s ruling. Having agreed to paragraph 12 of Schedule 1 to the SIAC Rules, it cannot lie in the mouth of a party to ignore an Emergency Arbitrator’s award by stating that, it is a nullity, when such party expressly agrees to the binding nature of such award from the date it is made and further undertakes to carry out the said interim order immediately and without delay.

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”. Such orders are an important step in aid of decongesting the civil Courts and affording expeditious interim relief to the parties. Such orders are referable to and are made under Section 17(1) of the Arbitration Act.

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. The impugned judgments of the Division Bench are set aside. The appeals are disposed of.

Tags : Emergency Arbitrator Award Enforcement

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