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India: Bombay High Court Pronounces Landmark Ruling on Seat of Arbitration

The Hon’ble Division Bench of the Bombay High Court in the case of Aniket SA Investments LLC v. Janapriya Engineers Syndicate Private Limited (Commercial Appeal No. 504 of 2019) pronounced a landmark decision on the interplay between the ‘seat of arbitration’ and an ‘exclusive jurisdiction’ clause.

Aniket SA Investments LLC (the original Petitioner) had filed a petition under Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 seeking certain interim reliefs. The arbitration agreement between the parties stipulated that the ‘seat’ of arbitration was Mumbai. The governing law and jurisdiction clause specified that ‘subject to’ the arbitration clause, the courts of Hyderabad shall have exclusive jurisdiction to try and entertain any disputes arising out of the agreement. The Learned Single Judge of the Bombay High Court had dismissed the petition by holding that the courts at Hyderabad would have jurisdiction to hear applications arising out of the arbitration.

Aniket SA Investments LLC appealed this decision. The Hon’ble Division Bench allowed the appeal and held that:

  • A choice of seat is in itself an expression of party autonomy and carries with it the effect of conferring exclusive jurisdiction on the courts of the seat.

  • The choice of court at Hyderabad has clearly been made ‘subject to’ the arbitration clause. The plain language of the arbitration clause states that Mumbai is the chosen seat of arbitration. Therefore, the courts in Mumbai would have exclusive jurisdiction.

  • Further, even if it was to be interpreted that two concurrent courts would have jurisdiction, the choice of courts at Hyderabad is made ‘subject to’ the seat at Mumbai, which amounts to a choice of courts at Mumbai.

The Hon’ble Division Bench set aside the order of the Learned Single Judge and directed that the Section 9 petition can proceed on merits before the Bombay High Court.

The judgment of the Hon’ble Bombay High Court is available here.

Nishith Desai Associates 2021. All rights reserved.National Law Review, Volume XI, Number 82
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About this Author

Bhavana Sunder Lawyer Nishith Desai Assoc. India-centric Global Law Firm

Bhavana is a member of the International Dispute Resolution & Investigations Practice at Nishith Desai Associates, Mumbai. She focuses on commercial litigation, international arbitration and white-collar crimes. She is a member of Indian Arbitration Forum. Bhavana has a wide array of experience in advising on commercial litigation, international commercial arbitration and investigations. She augments her practice with thought leadership and policy writing on issues pertaining to arbitration and white-collar crime. She has authored several articles which have been...

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Alipak Banerjee Attorney Nishith Desai Assoc. India-centric Global Law Firm
International Dispute Resolution and Investigations Practice Leader

Alipak is a Leader in the International Dispute Resolution and Investigations Practice and co-heads the International Investment Arbitration practice group at the research-based international law firm, Nishith Desai Associates. Prior to joining Nishith Desai Associates, he worked under Professor Martin Hunter at Essex Court Chambers, London.

Alipak is known for his analytical and solution driven approach. Some of his works have been shortlisted by the Financial Times for the Financial Times Innovative Lawyer Award in Hong Kong.

He represents clients in a wide range of...

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Vyapak Desai Attorney Nishith Desai Assoc. India-centric Global Law Firm
International Dispute Resolution and Investigation Practice Group Leader

Vyapak Desai heads the International Dispute Resolution and Investigation Practice at the multi-skilled, research and strategy driven international law firm, Nishith Desai Associates. A senior attorney with the firm, Vyapak specializes in bringing in the highest level of analytical and innovative input in cross border, complex contentious matters, corporate/regulatory investigations while also leading the Corporate and Securities practice in the past at the firm.

Vyapak's vast experience in legislation includes representing clients as Counsel in a host of complex cases including...

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