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Future vs Amazon: Delhi High Court rejects Future Retail’s plea seeking stay on Emergency Arbitrator’s order

Future Retail had moved to Delhi High Court seeking a stay on an interim order passed by the Singapore-Based Emergency Arbitrator on October 2.

October 29, 2021 / 05:06 PM IST
Representative Image

Representative Image

The Delhi High Court on Friday rejected Future Retail’s plea seeking a stay on the October 21 interim order passed by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). The high court asked Amazon to respond on the matter and has scheduled the next hearing for January 4.

The Singapore-based emergency arbitrator SIAC last week had rejected Future Group’s appeal to vacate the interim stay on the company’s deal with Reliance passed in October last year. SIAC had also held that Future Retail is a party to the matter between Amazon and Future Group, rejecting its (Future Retail's) request to be excluded from the arbitration proceedings.

Read here: Future Retail must take part in Amazon dispute arbitration, says Singapore panel

Following the order, Future Group had moved to Delhi High Court seeking a stay on the interim order as well as a nod to proceed with shareholders’ and creditors meeting for its proposed asset sale to Reliance Retail, for which it has already received clearance from the National Company Law Tribunal (NCLAT).

Read: Reliance gets NCLT permission to seek creditors’ nod for proposed deal with Future Group

Senior counsel Harish Salve appearing for Future Retail requested the court to give an interim order clarifying that Supreme Court’s order and not SIAC’s order would prevail.

“I am seeking an interim order that the Supreme Court order will prevail till the apex court vacates it. Your lordship can certainly pass an order which is aligned with Supreme Court,” he said.

The bench, however, said it is unable to pass an interim order as the matter is pending before the Supreme Court of India and it would need a clearance from the apex court.

The Supreme Court of India in August gave a verdict upholding the validity of the Singapore-based Emergency Arbitrator’s award in India, which blocked the deal between Future Group and Reliance Retail. Later on, on September 9, Amazon had approached the Delhi High Court seeking implementation of the emergency arbitrator’s award. However, the Supreme Court intervened, on Future Group’s appeal, and ordered a stay on the proceedings of the ongoing Amazon-Future Retail case before the Delhi High Court. The apex court also directed the NCLT, the Competition Commission of India (CCI) and the Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI) to not pass any order on the matter.

Amazon and Future Group are embroiled in legal battles since the latter entered into an agreement with Reliance Retail to sell its retail assets for Rs 24,713 crore in 2020. The deal, however, has faced several roadblocks since then given e-commerce behemoth Amazon’s objection to it. Amazon contests the deal claiming that a prior agreement with the Future Group entitled the company to pick up a stake in Future Retail at a later date. Amazon in 2018 had bought a 49 percent stake in unlisted Future Coupons Private Limited. Subsequently, Amazon had moved to the Singapore-based Emergency Arbitrator to block the deal.

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Devika Singh
first published: Oct 29, 2021 12:22 pm