The Delhi High Court has dismissed a plea filed by the Future Retail Group related to the termination of arbitration proceedings with Amazon, in progress before the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. Justice Amit Bansal of the Delhi HC dismissed the filings on January 4 without providing further information.
The ruling came after Kishore Biyani’s Future Group requested the court that given India’s antitrust agency – the Competition Commission of India (CCI) – had suspended a 2019 deal used by Amazon to assert rights over Future, there was no legal basis for the arbitration to continue. The investment deal between Amazon and Future Coupons Pvt Ltd (a promoter firm of the group’s publicly listed company Future Retail Ltd) would have been able to place its products on Amazon’s online marketplace.
In the ongoing battle between the two companies over the past months, Amazon contested Future’s plea by saying that the arbitration and the underlying contract are independent of each other. Amazon further stated that they had legal options such as appeals available against the CCI order. The US company used the terms of its Rs 1,430 crores investment in a Future unit in 2019 to counter the Indian retailer’s attempt to sell retail assets to rival Reliance Industries, alleging breach of certain contracts. In December 2021, the CCI had suspended its approval for Amazon’s deal to acquire a 49 percent stake in Future Coupons, and slapped a Rs 202 crore fine on the e-commerce site.
The verdict of the three hours long hearing on January 3 was delivered the following day, ahead of the dates set by the Singapore International Arbitration Centre’s proceedings. The tribunal meetings to hear the case on the damages that the Future Group would be liable to pay to Amazon will take place between January 5 and 7. Earlier last year, the tribunal passed a partial award in favour of Amazon. The panel found Future Retail Ltd to be a valid related party to the contractual arrangement entered into between Amazon and Biyani-led Future Coupons. In accordance with this the tribunal will now look into ascertaining the magnitude of liability.
The Future Group had hoped that the previous order by the CCI would aid them in having the arbitration proceedings terminated altogether. It had petitioned the Singapore tribunal for the same but the request was not accommodated.