Hindustan Times ST (Jaipur)
Future-ril deal: Singapore court to hear case on July 12
The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has decided to hear the crucial high-profile legal case between Us-based e-commerce giant Amazon.com NV Investment Holdings Llc and the Kishore Biyani-promoted Future Group over the latter’s ₹24,713 crore deal with Reliance Industries Ltd on July 12 2021, according to two persons with direct knowledge of the matter.
An interim emergency award by SIAC on October 25 had restrained Reliance and the Future Group from going ahead with the deal.
The final order by SIAC in the case involving Mukesh Ambani’s RIL and Jeff Bezos’ Amazon will decide who will have an edge in India’s burgeoning retail e-commerce industry.
“As the crux of the entire legal issue is the breach of the contractual agreement, which falls under the jurisdiction of SIAC, this arbitration hearing is extremely important. Also, SIAC’S order may suggest a direction for courts in India on the pending legal case between the two parties here,” said one of the persons mentioned above on condition anonymity.
SIAC will conduct this hearing to pass the final arbitration award after India’s Supreme
Court starts hearing the matter on June 28. However, the tribunal’s final verdict may come even before the apex court’s final order as SIAC typically decides faster on arbitration cases, said the first person.
On January 5, SIAC had formed a panel of lawyers to hear the case. “This may be crucial as any dispute between the two parties will be subject to the jurisdiction of SIAC and its decision shall be binding, according to the contractual agreement between Amazon and Future Group. As per India’s arbitration law, the decision of SIAC has to be considered legally valid and enforceable,” said the first person.
Veteran barrister Michael Hwang has been appointed as the judge for the tribunal in the Amazon-future case. Albert Jan van den Berg, the founding partner of law firm Hanotiau & van den Berg, and Jan Paulsson, a Swedish arbitration veteran and founding partner of Three Crowns Llp., are the two members of the arbitration panel.
If SIAC passes its final judgement before the Supreme Court spells its final verdict, Amazon and Future will be able to add SIAC’S order in their affidavits before the apex court and it will not only be easier for the Supreme Court to prepare its judgement on the case but will also bring the long-drawn legal battle to a close.
On April 19, on a special leave petition filed by Amazon, the apex court stayed all proceedings before Delhi High Court but did not stop RIL and Future from working on the deal.
On May 5, Mint first reported that the Supreme Court has deferred the hearing of the dispute to June 28.
The delay actually may have come as a temporary setback for Amazon as it bought Future Group and RIL two more months to work towards their proposed deal and realign operations, restructure businesses, and transition Future Group’s staff and retail stores such as Big Bazaar.