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Amazon is currently exploring which jurisdiction to approach. (AP)
Amazon is currently exploring which jurisdiction to approach. (AP)

Amazon may move high court to enforce order

  • Amazon and Future have a week’s time to mutually agree on whether to continue with the arbitration proceedings at the SIAC, failing which, a long-winding legal tussle between both sides is likely
  • The Singapore court restrained Future group from selling its assets to Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL)

Amazon.com Inc., which won interim relief against Future group in a Singapore court, is likely to move an Indian high court by next week to enforce the verdict if Future declines to pursue arbitration proceedings in the city-state, two people aware of the development said.

Amazon and Future have a week’s time to mutually agree on whether to continue with the arbitration proceedings at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), failing which, a long-winding legal tussle between both sides is likely, the people said seeking anonymity.

The Singapore court restrained Future from selling its assets to Reliance Industries Ltd (RIL) on Sunday.

The dispute between the two parties relates to Future’s sale of its retail, wholesale and warehousing assets to Mukesh Ambani’s RIL for 24,713 crore. Amazon, which owns a 5% indirect stake in Future Retail Ltd, has contested the sale in the Singapore court, claiming that its 2019 investment agreement bars Future group from selling its assets to RIL.

“It has to be decided within seven days whether both parties wish to continue with SIAC proceedings and wait for its final judgement," one of the two people said. “If Future agrees with SIAC’s interim ruling and pauses the RIL deal, both Amazon and Future can mutually decide on the members of the arbitration panel, continue the hearings at SIAC and wait for the judgement."

If Future is unwilling to reopen talks with Amazon for bringing in a new partner or investor, the next option for Amazon could be approaching an Indian court, the person added.

Amazon is currently exploring which jurisdiction to approach. “The most effective option is to file a Section 9 application under the Arbitration Act in any of the high courts. If Amazon gets the same interim relief granted to it by SIAC in the high court and then the Supreme Court, the arbitration will proceed on merits. Future and RIL may contest this vigorously," said Murali Neelakantan, principal lawyer at Amicus, a law firm.

Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act permits interim measures for relief by way of an application before the commencement of the arbitral proceedings or after the pronouncement of an award but before its enforcement. The other option for Amazon is filing a civil suit in a high court. “But this would be unlikely as it is not as effective as a Section 9 process and there is even a recent Supreme Court ruling that has established a clear path to be followed in international arbitration cases," added Neelakantan. “Future must approach an Indian high court if it wants the SIAC ruling to be set aside or if it wants to stop Amazon from filing any case if it chooses to go ahead with the RIL deal despite SIAC’s ruling," said the first person.

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