Future Retail moves Delhi High Court against SIAC order, alleging Amazon
Kishore Biyani-led Future Retail Ltd. has approached the Delhi High Court against the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) arbitrator's stay order that put the sale of retail and wholesale business to Reliance Retail Ltd. on hold.
The Future Group firm has contended that Amazon is "misusing" the interim order passed by an Emergency Arbitrator of the SIAC passed on 25 October, 2020.
The interim order was passed in proceedings initiated by Amazon under an agreement in which Future Retail was not even a party, the company said.
Amazon.com Inc. initiated legal proceedings against Future Group in SIAC alleging that the Rs. 27,513-crore deal between Reliance Retail and Future Group violated its contractual rights.
Future Retail had said at the time that the interim order will have to be tested under the provisions of the Indian Arbitration Act in an appropriate forum.
Reliance Retail had said that it intends to enforce its rights and complete the transaction in terms of the scheme and agreement with Future Group without any delay.
"The Company has inter-alia made all entities parties to the suit which were parties to the arbitration proceedings, this includes the promoters of the Company. It may be noted that the reliefs sought in the suit are only against Amazon," the company said in a stock exchange filing.
Subsequently, both Future and Amazon filed a caveat application in the Delhi High Court requesting that no order should be passed if any case related to the issue comes in front of the high court.
On October 25, a single-judge bench of V K Rajah of the SIAC passed an interim award in favour of Amazon, barring Future Retail from taking any steps to dispose its assets or issuing any securities to secure any funding from a restricted party.
Amazon wrote to market regulator SEBI and stock exchanges, urging them to take into consideration the Singapore arbitrator's interim judgement.
On November 1, Future Retail made a filing to the exchanges saying that the Singapore arbitrator's interim order against its deal with RIL is "not binding", and any attempt to enforce it will be "resisted".
"The EA (Emergency Arbitrator) order is not enforceable under the provisions of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and is not binding on FRL. Any attempt on the part of Amazon to enforce the EA Order shall be resisted by FRL to the fullest extent available under Indian law. FRL is also in the process of taking appropriate legal action to protect its rights," the filing said.
Future Retail questioned the validity of the order and said that the order was passed in arbitration proceedings initiated by Amazon by invoking an arbitration clause in a contract to which it is not a party.
As per the SIAC interim order, a three-member arbitration panel needs to be set up within 90 days with one judge each being appointed by Future and Amazon along with a third neutral judge.
In the filing, Future Retail has also stated that it has been advised that "an Emergency Arbitrator has no legal status" under Part I of the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 and therefore, the proceedings are "void and Coram non judice".
It added that the Emergency Arbitrator's order having been passed by an authority without jurisdiction is a "nullity under Indian law".