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.
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.
The division bench of the Supreme Court recently held that if the parties to an arbitration have agreed an arbitrators' fee schedule, the arbitrators must charge their fees in accordance with this agreed schedule and not in accordance with the Fourth Schedule of the amended Arbitration Act. While this decision gives credence to party autonomy and may thus be hailed as pro-arbitration, it specifies no limits and provides no other directions for parties to bear in mind when fixing a fee schedule.
The Supreme Court recently held that the only prerequisite for an arbitration agreement is that it be in writing. Through this decision, the court has adopted a pro-arbitration approach and, as such, may contribute positively to the existing jurisprudence on the Indian arbitration regime. By relying on the unsigned bill of lading, the court focused on the parties' conduct and intent, both of which indicated that there was an arbitration agreement between them.
The Bombay High Court recently held that in accordance with the 2015 amendment of Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996, the courts' responsibility to refer a dispute to arbitration is narrow and limited to examining the existence of an arbitration agreement. Further, the high court held that an unstamped document does not bar a dispute from arbitration.