Tag Archives: agreement

Injunction To Restrain Encashment of a Bank Guarantee – Principles of

In Himadri Chemicals Industries Ltd. v. Coal Tar Refining Company, (2007) 8 SCC 110, the Hon’ble Apex Court has crystallized the principles which should be followed in the matter of injunction to restrain encashment of a Bank Guarantee or a letter of credit and it was held as under:

       “(1) While dealing with an application for injunction in the course of commercial dealings, and when an unconditional bank guarantee or letter of credit is given or accepted, the beneficiary is entitled to realize such a bank guarantee or a letter of credit in terms thereof irrespective of any pending disputes relating to the terms of the contract.

       (2) the bank giving such guarantee is bound to honour it as per the terms irrespective of any dispute raised by its customer.

       (3) The courts should be slow in granting an order of injunction to restrain the realization of a Bank Guarantee or a Letter of Credit.

       (4) Since a Bank Guarantee or a Letter of Credit is an independent and a separate contract and is absolute in nature, the existence of any dispute between the parties to the contract is not a ground for issuing an order of injunction to restrain enforcement of Bank Guarantees or Letters of Credit.

       (5) Fraud of an egregious nature which would vitiate the very foundation of such a Bank Guarantee or Letter of Credit and the beneficiary seeks to take advantage of the situation.

       (6) Allowing encashment of an unconditional Bank Guarantee or a Letter of Credit would result in irretrievable harm or injustice to one of the parties concerned.”

       In Adani Agri Fresh Ltd. v. Mahaboob Sharif and Others, (2016) 14 SCC 517, it was held that bank guarantee is an independent contract between bank and the beneficiary thereof. Bank is always obliged to honour its guarantees as long as it is an unconditional and irrevocable one. The dispute between the beneficiary and the party at whose instance bank has given guarantee is immaterial and of no consequence.

       In Mahatma Gandhi Sahakra Sakkare Karkhane v. National Heavy Engineering Corporation Ltd., (2007) 6 SCC 470, it was held that if bank guarantee is an unconditional and irrevocable one, it is not open to the bank to raise any objection whatsoever to pay the amounts under the guarantee. The person in whose favour guarantee is furnished by the bank cannot be prevented by way of an injunction in enforcing the guarantee in terms of the agreement entered between the parties has not been fulfilled. M/s Drake & Skull Water Energy India Pvt. Ltd. v. Paschimanchal Vidyut Vitran Nigam Ltd., 2008 (128) ALR 843.

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Power of Arbitrator – To grant interest pendente lite

In Irrigation Department v. G.C. Roy, (1992) 1 SCC 508, the Hon’ble Apex Court thoroughly considered the question of power of the arbitrator to award interest pendente lite and held that when the agreement between the parties does not prohibit grant of interest and where the party claims interest and that dispute has been referred to an arbitrator does have the power to award interest pendente lite.

Subsequently in Port of Calcutta v. Engineers-De-Space-Age, (1996) 1 SCC 516 and Madnani Construction Corporation (P) Ltd. v. Union of India, (2010) 1 SCC 549 held that according to the view taken in Irrigation Department v. G.C.Roy, (1992) 1 SCC 508, the arbitrator does have the power to award interest pendente lite. The Court observed that it essentially depends upon the ouster in each clause, which means that unless there is an express bar that provides that the arbitrator cannot award interest pendente lite, the grant of interest pendente lite will predominantly be based on the arbitrator’s discretion to award the same.

In Sayeed Ahmed and Co. v. State of U.P., (2009) 12 SCC 26, the Hon’ble Apex Court referred to the decision in Superintending Engineer v. B.Subba Reddy, (1999) 4 SCC 423 and observed thus:

“Two more decisions dealing with cases arising under the Arbitration Act, 1940 require to be noticed. In Superintending Engineer v. B.Subba Reddy, (1999) 4 SCC 423 the Hon’ble Apex Court held that interest for pre-reference period can be awarded only if there was an agreement to that effect or if it was allowable under the Interest Act, 1978. Therefore, claim for interest for pre-reference period, which is barred as per the agreement or under the Interest Act, 1978 could not be allowed. The Court however held that the arbitrator can award interest pendente lite and future interest.”

A three Judge Bench of the Hon’ble Apex Court in Union of India v. Ambica Contsruction, (2016) 6 SCC 36, held that the power of an arbitrator to grant pendente lite interest will depend upon several factors such as; phraseology used in the agreement clauses conferring power relating to arbitration, nature of claim and dispute referred to arbitrator, and on what items power to award interest has been taken away and for which period. It was observed:

“Thus, our answer to the reference is that if the contract expressly bars the award of interest pendente lite, the same cannot be awarded by the arbitrator. We also make it clear that the bar to award interest on delayed payment by itself will not be readily inferred as express bar to award interest pendente lite by the arbitral Tribunal, as ouster of power of the arbitrator has to be considered on various relevant aspects referred to in the decisions of this Court, it would be for the Division Bench to consider the case on merits.”

Further, the Hon’ble Apex Court considered an identical clause in the contract in Ambica Construction v. Union of India, (2017) 14 SCC 323, wherein it observed that the clause of GCC did not bar the arbitrator from awarding interest pendente lite and affirmed the award passed by the arbitrator. The three Judge Bench of the Court held that the contention raised by the Union of India based on the clause of GCC that the arbitrator could not award interest pendente lite was not a valid contention and the arbitrator was completely justified in granting interest pendente lite. Relying on the three Judge Bench judgment in Union of India v. Ambica Contsruction, (2016) 6 SCC 36 and Irrigation Department v. G.C.Roy, (1992) 1 SCC 508, the Court held that the bar to award interest on the amounts payable under the contract would not be sufficient to deny the payment of interest pendente lite. Raveechee and Company v. Union of India, (2018) 7 SCC 664.

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Compromise – Meaning of

In the case of Bimal Kumar v. Shakuntala Debi, (2012) 3 SCC 548, it was held as under:

“It is to be borne in mind that the term ‘compromise’ essentially means settlement of differences by mutual consent. In such process, the adversarial claims come to rest. The cavil between the parties is given a decent burial. A compromise which is arrived at by the parties puts an end to the litigative battle. Sometimes the parties feel that it is an unfortunate bitter struggle and allow good sense to prevail to resolve the dispute. In certain cases, by intervention of well wishers, the conciliatory process commences and eventually, by consensus and concurrence, rights get concretised. A reciprocal settlement with a clear mind is regarded as noble. It signifies magnificient and majestic facets of the human mind. The exalted state of affairs brings in quintessence of sublime solemnity and social stability.” Nand Kishore Gaur v. Regional Deputy Director of Education, 2018 (4) AWC 3370.

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Essentials of an Agreement – To qualify as a mortgage

The essentials of an agreement, to qualify as a mortgage by conditional sale, can succinctly be broadly summarized. An ostensible sale with transfer of possession and ownership, but containing a clause for reconveyance in accordance with Section 58 (c) of the Transfer of Property Act, will clothe the agreement as a mortgage by conditional sale. The execution of a separate agreement for reconveyance, either contemporaneously or subsequently, shall militate against the agreement being mortgage by conditional sale. There must exist a debtor and creditor relationship. The valuation of the property, and the transactional value, alongwith the duration of time for reconveyance, are important considerations to decide the nature of the agreement. There will have to be a cumulative consideration of these factors, alongwith the recitals in the agreement, intention of the parties, coupled with other attendant circumstances, considered in a holistic manner. Vishal Tukaram Kadam v. Vamanrao Sawalaram Bhosale, 2017 (5) AWC 4821.

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Appointment of an Impartial Arbitrator

It is settled that in exercise of jurisdiction under Section 11 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, the Court is to enforce terms of agreement for securing appointment of arbitrator. However, it is not denuded of jurisdiction to follow a different course, for justifiable cause, by giving reasons. Different contingencies requiring such departure have clearly been noticed. The ultimate object is to secure appointment of an impartial arbitrator and secure speedy resolution of dispute by way of arbitration. The scheme underlying the Arbitration and Conciliation Act has to be construed by harmoniously interpreting its provisions. It is imperative for the court to examine qualification and impartiality of arbitrator as well as to secure speedy resolution of dispute. The terms of arbitration agreement providing for arbitrator to be named by designation cannot be read in isolation. It also cannot be construed in a manner inconsistent with the scheme of the Act. The question is answered holding that an application under Section 11(6) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act would lie also in a case where arbitrator is named, by designation, where (i) arbitrator named is not impartial, or (ii) he lacks required qualification, or (iii) for any other justifiable cause to secure speedy resolution of dispute, by way of a reasoned order. M/s AARGEE Engineering and Company v. ERA Infra Engineering Ltd., 2017 (122) ALR 179.

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Arbitral Tribunal – Award of Interest

Section 31(7) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, by using the words “unless otherwise agreed by the parties”, categorically specifies that the arbitrator is bound by the terms of the contract so far as award of interest from the date of cause of action to date of the award is concerned. Therefore, where the parties had agreed that no interest shall be payable, the Arbitral Tribunal cannot award interest.
In Union of India v. Saraswat Trading Agency, (2009) 16 SCC 504, the Hon’ble Apex Court has observed in the said case that if there is a bar against payment of interest in the contract, the arbitrator cannot award any interest for such period. Union of India v. Bright Power Projects (I) Pvt. Ltd., 2015 (4) AWC 3862.

The grant of award of interest on arbitrable claims by the Arbitral Tribunal is not inherently illegal or against any public policy or per se bad in law or beyond the powers of the Arbitral Tribunal. In other words, it is permissible to award interest in arbitrable claims by the Arbitral Tribunal.

Indeed, Sections 31(7)(a) and (b) of the Act empower the Arbitral Tribunal to award interest on the awarded sum and secondly, it is always subject to the agreement between the parties.

It is a well settled principle in Arbitration Law that the award of an Arbitral Tribunal once passed is binding on the parties. The reason being that the parties having chosen their own arbitrator and given him authority to decide the specific disputes arising between them must respect his decision as far as possible and should not make any attempt to find fault in each issue decided by him only because it is decided against one party. It is only when the issue decided is found to be bad in law in the light of any of the specified grounds set out in Section 34 of the Act, the Court may consider it appropriate to interfere in the award else not. Union of India v. Susaka Pvt. Ltd., (2018) 2 SCC 182.

 

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Arbitration Agreement – Signature is Not a Formal Requirement

Section 7(3) of the Arbitration and Concilitaion Act states that the arbitration agreement shall be in writing, which is a mandatory requirement. Section 7(4) states that the arbitration agreement shall be in writing, if it is a document signed by all the parties. But a perusal of Clauses (b) and (c) of Section 7(4) would show that a written document which may not be signed by the parties, even then it can be arbitration agreement. Section 7(4)(b) provides that an agreement can be culled out from an exchange of letters, telex, telegrams or other means of telecommunication which provide a record of the agreement.
Reading the provision it can safely be concluded that an arbitration agreement is provided by exchange of letters, telex, telegrams or other means of telecommunication. Section 7(c) provides that there can be an arbitration agreement in the exchange of statements of claims and defence in which the existence of the agreement is alleged by one party and not denied by the other. If it can be prima facie shown that the parties are at ad idem, then mere fact of one party not signing the agreement cannot absolve himself from the liability under the agreement. In the present day of E-commerce, in cases of internet purchases, tele purchases, ticket booking on the internet and in standard forms of contract, terms and conditions are agreed upon. In such agreements, if the identity of the parties is established, and there is a record of agreement it becomes and arbitration agreement if there is an arbitration clause showing ad idem between the parties. Therefore, signature is not a formal requirement under Section 7(4)(b) or 7(4)(c) or under 7(5) of the Act. M/s Govind Rubber Ltd. v. M/s Loids Dreyfus Commodities Asia P. Ltd., 2015 (108) ALR 735.

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