Singapore International Arbitration Centre on June 28 dismissed Future's plea seeking termination of arbitration proceedings between the group and American e-commerce major Amazon.
The Kishore Biyani-led group had sought termination of arbitration on the grounds that the investment deal between its Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (FCPL) and Amazon no longer enjoyed the Competition Commission of India's approval.
The CCI in December 2021 passed an order keeping its approval for the deal in abeyance noting that Amazon had failed to divulge its strategic interests in the Future group's retail business.
Future group based its plea for terminating arbitration proceedings on CCI's order and argued that without CCI's approval, the deal would be rendered invalid and the arbitration proceedings emanating from the underlying agreement ought to be terminated.
As per sources close to the development, SIAC rejected the plea for termination of arbitration noting that the CCI's order does not render the proceedings unnecessary or impossible under the Indian law on arbitration and conciliation. The suspension of CCI's approval will not invalidate the arbitration clause in the agreement, the tribunal noted further while rejecting the plea.
The arbitration proceedings that are in the final stages at present are expected to resume after this order.
The legal battle between Amazon and Future group began in 2020 when the e-commerce giant invoked arbitration in a bid to oppose and block the planned asset sale between Future group's public listed company, Future Retail Ltd (FRL), and a wholly-owned subsidiary of Reliance Industries Ltd.
Amazon has contended that its investment deal with FCPL, among other things, expressly barred any Future group firm from entering into business with certain restricted entities which included the Reliance group. As such, FRL's proposed merger worth Rs 27,000 crore with Reliance Retail ought not to go ahead. On the other hand, FRL proceeded with the procedural steps for the asset sale on the grounds that it was a third party to an agreement between Amazon and FCPL and was not bound by the terms of the agreement.
The issue led to the unfolding of one of the most protracted legal battles in recent times with the parties moving different courts.Disclaimer: Moneycontrol is a part of the Network18 group. Network18 is controlled by Independent Media Trust, of which Reliance Industries is the sole beneficiary.