Firm Profile > Singhania & Partners LLP > New Delhi, India

Singhania & Partners LLP
S&P HOUSE, P-24, GREEN PARK EXTENSION
NEW DELHI 110 016
India

India > Dispute resolution: arbitration Tier 2

Singhania & Partners LLP acts for corporations and government bodies in domestic and international arbitration, including disputes governed by SIAC and the ICC. The firm is particularly well-known for its role in proceedings arising from construction projects, consulting agreements and public-private contracts. Ravi Singhania has over thirty years of experience in major arbitration proceedings in India and overseas. Shilpa Shah specialises in commercial arbitration and litigation, with notable expertise in the transport sector.  Vikas Goel has an excellent track record in infrastructure and breach of contract disputes.

Testimonials

‘Attention to detail. Cost effective and timely intervention and execution. Pragmatic focus on results.’

 

Key clients

Abhyudaya Housing & Construction Pvt Ltd.

Bawana Infra Development Private Limited.

Shapoorji Pallonji & Company Ltd.

Ramky Infrastructures Limited

JR Simplot

PNC Delhi Industrial Infra Private Limited

National Highways Authority of India

Isgec Heavy Engineering Ltd.

India > Dispute resolution: litigation Tier 2

Singhania & Partners LLP specialises in disputes involving government contracts, construction projects and consulting agreements. However the firm’s offering is much broader than this and entails disputes before NCLT, SEBI and various other fora. Shilpa Shah is known for her expertise in commercial litigation, including major class actions. Vikas Goel is a go-to partner for clients involved in infrastructure and corporate disputes.

Key clients

Power Finance Corporation

National Highway Infrastructure Development Corporation Limited

JR Simplot

Nikhara Bharath Construction Co. Ltd.

State Bank of India

National Highways Authority of India

Ramky Infrastructure Ltd.

Isgec Heavy Engineering Ltd

India > Banking and finance Tier 3

Singhania & Partners LLP specialises in project finance and consortium lending in the private and public sector, with an emphasis on the infrastructure and energy sectors. Dipak Rao is very active in project finance transactions, particularly in the renewable energy sector. Abhimeet Sinha has over 20 years of experience in various types of financing transactions.

Key clients

Neyveli Uttar Pradesh Power Limited

Acme Chittorgarh Solar Energy Private Limited

Adani Green Energy Limited

Power Finance Corporation Limited and Rural Electrification Corporation Limited

Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA)

National Highways & Infrastructure Development Corporation Ltd.

Salasar Techno Engineering Limited

Power Finance Corporation Ltd

Bitchem Asphalt Technologies Ltd.

Sriramcharan Energy and Infra Pvt. Ltd

M/s Talettutayi Solar Projects Five Pvt. Ltd.

Ramesh Hydro Power Private Limited

Antony Lara Renewable Energy Pvt Ltd.

M/s Asian Fab Tec Limited

Isgec Heavy Engineering Ltd.

State Bank of India

India > Corporate and M&A Tier 3

The M&A department at Singhania & Partners LLP is active in handling transactional mandates on behalf of clients across a range of verticals, including telecoms, technology, financial services, and e-commerce. Ravi Singhania leads on numerous M&A matters, while Dipak Rao is noted for transactions and joint ventures which involve technology transfers and data protection issues, or those which require regulatory approval. Insolvency expert Manish Kumar Sharma is another noteworthy individual in the practice which also counts with Rudra Srivastava, whose areas of expertise cover private equity and restructuring issues.

Key clients

Inmarsat India Private Limited

S&P Global Inc

O. C. Tanner, Inc.

Acacia International Holding II LLP

Best Koki Automotive Private Limited

Qualitest Group

National Instruments Corporation

Dictate IT Limited

Insorce Operational Optimizers Pvt. Ltd.

Heifer Project International

Federation of Karnataka Chambers of Commerce and Industry

Dellner Brakes India Private Limited

Corinthian India Holdings LLC

India > Intellectual property Tier 3

In an effort to strengthen the patent and design offering at Singhania & Partners LLP’s IP practice, Bhawna Sharma was recently recruited from Archer & Angel to head the team. Patent filing, prosecution and enforcement is provided to a roster of life sciences and technology clients. Co-head Dipak Rao  provides soft IP prosecution, oppositions, portfolio management and litigation expertise including infringement proceedings, while co-head Sonil Singhania adds strength across the breadth of non-contentious engagements.

Practice head(s):

Other key lawyers:

Key clients

eEye Digital Security, Inc.

Tiger Coatings GmbH & Co.KG

Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité (INAO)

McGraw Hill Education

Indian Institute of Management Calcutta Innovation Park

Bounce Inc. Pty. Ltd.

Grofers India Private Limited

Arnold & Richter Cine Technik Gmbh & Co. Betriebs KG

India > Labour and employment Tier 3

Labour and employment advice on high-value transactions at Singhania & Partners LLP is provided by co-heads Ravi Singhania, Shilpa Shah, Manish Kumar Sharma and Rudra Srivastava. Recent highlights involved complex transfers and retrenchments in highly unionised sectors. Numerous IT clients instructed the team on employee misconduct investigations and subsequent hearings. The team also drafts POSH guidelines and other HR policies for all clients. Highly praised senior associate Bhanu Harish recently advised IT clients on multi-state compliance requirements.

Other key lawyers:

Testimonials

Laws in India are often complex and the law and its application are not always consistent. I appreciate that Singhania & Partners are able to give very practical advice for foreign investors who may not necessarily understand the norms in India.

Rudra Srivastava and Bhanu Harish are very prompt in responding to most queries and often assist with preparing documents or giving very clear guided instructions on what clients need to do without being asked. It helps us feel ensured that we are not missing out anything just because we failed to raise a question. They are always available for a call to address clarifications needed.

Key clients

Kohler Co.

Semtech Advanced Systems India Private Limited

Shangri-La International Hotel Management Ltd.

iQor India Services Private Limited

ABS Industrial Verification (India) Private Limited

CECO Emtrol Buell India Private Limited

Oxford University Press

India > Projects and energy Tier 3

The projects and energy practice at Singhania & Partners LLP  has been particularly active advising on the financing structures of projects in the sectors of renewable energy (with an emphasis on solar power), railways and roads.Typical mandates also cover concession agreements, dispute resolution, bid process management, regulatory and compliance issues. Dipak Rao and Ravi Singhania excel in project finance transactions, while Vikas Goel handles contentious matters. Abhimeet Sinha has extensive experience in energy mandates, especially in the electricity and renewables sectors.

Key clients

Neyveli Uttar Pradesh Power Limited

Acme Chittorgarh Solar Energy Private Limited

Adani Green Energy Limited

Indian Renewable Energy Development Agency Limited (IREDA)

Sriramcharan Energy and Infra Pvt. Ltd

M/s Talettutayi Solar Projects Five Pvt. Ltd.

Ramesh Hydro Power Private Limited

Antony Lara Renewable Energy Pvt Ltd.

M/s Asian Fab Tec Limited

PNC Delhi Industrial Infra Private Limited

Dedicated Freight Corridor Corporation of India Limited (DFCCIL)

National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL)

Mazars Advisory Private Limited

REC Transmission Projects Company Limited (RECTPCL)

Gujarat Maritime Board

India > Real estate and construction Tier 3

Based across its offices in Begaluru, Hyderabad, Gurugram and New Delhi, the team at Singhania & Partners LLP has a proven track-record in real estate transactions. The service offering ranges from legal support in relation to financing matters, development agreements, and leasing to representation in project development disputes and class-action lawsuits arising out of land acquisitions. The team has recently gained significant clients in the retail, hospitality, energy and construction sectors. Ravi Singhania is a noteworthy practitioner, whose areas of expertise include finance, M&A and dispute resolution.

Key clients

S&P Global Inc.

Nikhara Bharat Construction Co. Ltd. (NBCCL)

Aura Hotels

Ramky Infrastructure Ltd.

SM Group

Laboratory Corporation of America

PNC Delhi Industrial Infra Private Limited

Leisure Hotels Pvt. Ltd.

Abhyudaya Housing & Construction Pvt. Ltd.

MMS Maritime (Japan)

RCI India Private Limited

Lister Moessner (India) Private Limited

National High Speed Rail Corporation Limited (NHSRCL)

Thryve Digital

Avi-Oil India Private Limited

Kelly Services India Private Limited

Roland Berger Private Limited

Singhania & Partners LLP (Ed. 1999) is one of the leading full-service law firms in India headquartered in New Delhi and branch offices in Bangalore, Gurugram, and Hyderabad. We are recommended by Chambers and Partners, The Legal 500 Asia Pacific, India Business Law Journal, Asian Legal Business, and Asialaw in different practice areas. Our firm provides legal services in corporate and commercial, mergers and acquisitions, dispute resolution (litigation and arbitration), employment, infrastructure, intellectual property, and project finance. We are a sole Indian member of TerraLex Inc. (USA), which is a global network of 600 law offices, more than 19,000 attorneys in 100+ countries.

Singhania & Partners was set up by Mr Ravi Singhania who is the youngest lawyer to be felicitated with the “National Law Day Award” for Corporate Laws (2006) by erstwhile Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh. He is a board member in CRISIL Ltd., Asset Care Enterprise, and Indian subsidiaries of some Fortune 500 companies.

Singhania & Partners clients include large and medium Indian and Foreign businesses, multinational corporations, and Fortune 500 companies. We also advise ministries, government authorities, and public sector undertakings.

We are particularly strong in infrastructure (roads and highways, railways, ports and shipyards), aerospace, defense, energy, and natural resources (power, oil and gas), banking and financial services, food processing, and packaging, education, healthcare, real estate, and information technology.

Hyderabad
614, Babukhan Estate, Basheer Bagh, Hyderabad 500001
t: +91 (40) 4210 2424
e: hyd@singhania.in

Benbaluru
401, Prestige Meridian II, 30, Mahatma Gandhi Road, Bengaluru 560001
t: +91 (80) 4113 1900
e: blr@singhania.in

New Delhi
P-24 Green Park Extension, New Delhi 110016
t: +91 (11) 4747 1414
e: delhi@singhania.in

Gurugram
#502, Fifth Floor, Golf Course Road, Sector 56, Gurugram, Haryana, 122001
t: +91 (124) 4034 756, 4034 760
e: gurugram@singhania.in

Department Name Email Telephone
Managing Partner, Delhi Ravi Singhania ravi@singhania.in +91 11 4747 1410
Senior Partner, Delhi Dipak Rao dipak@singhania.in +91 11 4747 1430
Senior Partner, Bengaluru Shilpa Shah shilpa@singhania.in +91 80 41131900
Senior Partner, Hyderabad Shilpa Shah shilpa@singhania.in +91 040 65810662
Partner, Delhi Vikas Goel vikas@singhania.in +91 11 4747 1470
Photo Name Position Profile
Mr Vikas Goel  photo Mr Vikas Goel Partner
Ms Gunjan Gupta  photo Ms Gunjan Gupta Associate Partner
Mr Yaman Kumar  photo Mr Yaman Kumar Associate Partner
Mr Dipak Rao  photo Mr Dipak Rao Senior Partner
Ms Tara Sarma  photo Ms Tara Sarma Associate Partner
Ms Shilpa Shah photo Ms Shilpa Shah Senior Partner
Mr Shambhu Sharan  photo Mr Shambhu Sharan Partner
Mr Manish Kumar Sharma  photo Mr Manish Kumar Sharma Partner
Miss Bhawna Sharma  photo Miss Bhawna Sharma Head-Patents and Design
Ms Sonil Singhania  photo Ms Sonil Singhania Partner
Mr Ravi Singhania  photo Mr Ravi Singhania Managing Partner
Mr Abhimeet Sinha  photo Mr Abhimeet Sinha Partner
Mr Rudra Srivastava  photo Mr Rudra Srivastava Partner
Ms Madhu Sweta  photo Ms Madhu Sweta Partner
Equity Partners : 4
Senior Partners : 2
Partners : 8
Associates : 46
Support Staff : 28
Hindi
English (fluent)
TerraLex
Asian Patent Attorney Association (APAA)
International Trademarks Association (INTA)
Chartered Institute of Arbitrators UK (CIArb)
American Bar Association (ABA)
Indo-French Chamber of Commerce and Industry (IFCCI)
FICCI
Confederation of Indian Industry

  • We are an Equal Opportunity Employer.
  • We do not discriminate on the basis of caste, gender, ethnicity, religion, sexual preferences, and physical abilities. We have people from different religions and regions of India working across the roles in our firm.
  • Almost, 50 percent of our workforce in the firm comprises of women. In fact, most of the leadership positions in the firm including HR, Practice Development, Senior Partner & Head Bengaluru Office, Head-Hyderabad Office, and a couple of partners in Delhi office are women.
  • Two of our firm members- a senior partner who has been with the firm for more than two decades and another female support staff have a disability.
  • LGBTQ is a sensitive topic in India and the country is still opening up to it. However, we do not and will not discriminate on the sexual preference of our employees.
  • We have an internal complaints committee to deal with complaints of sexual harassment. We take pride in providing a safe and secure workplace for all our employees. We regularly conduct workshops to sensitize employees on gender issues under Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace (Prevention, Prohibition and Redressal) Act, 2013 as mandated by Law. India does not have law on Workplace Harassment but only to Prevent Sexual Harassment of Women at Workplace as cited above.

CORPORATE-M&A

  • S&P Global Inc. is our client for more than two decades. We are their legal strategists in India from compliances, restructurings to acquisitions
  • Retained by Grofers India Private Limited with the investors namely, Softbank, Tiger Global, and Sequoia.
  • Advised O.C. Tanner in the acquisition of Kwench Technologies in India
  • Assisted Dictate IT Limited existing shareholders of British Orient Infotel Private Limited in acquiring shares in British Orient Infotel Private Limited to make Dictate IT owning 100% shares in British Orient Infotel Private Limited, an Indian company
  • Advised and assisted Inmarsat India in procurement of Post-facto FDI Approval for investments up to INR 50 billion from Department of Telecommunications, GOI.
  • Assisted Dellner Brakes AB, in an unconditional approval after representation with the RBI under FEMA
  • Read more about our practice here- https://singhania.in/singhania-partners-llp-is-one-of-the-top-full-service-law-firm/mergers-and-acquisitions/

DISPUTE RESOLUTION

  • Successfully representing National Highways Authority of India, Security Printing and Minting Corporation of India Limited (Currency Notes Press), Railtel Corporation of India Limited in numerous arbitrations and litigations for almost 10-20 years
  • Specialty in disputes in Contracts with Government Authorities, Consulting Agreements, Construction Projects, Building Contracts, and Road Construction such as FIDIC, EPC, Turnkey Projects, Concession Agreements and Public-Private Partnership model disputes
  • A thriving domestic and international arbitration practice.
  • Regularly appear before National Company Law Tribunal, Enforcement Directorate, Security Exchange Board of India, Labour Courts, and Debt Recovery Tribunals
  • Read more about our practice here- https://singhania.in/singhania-partners-llp-is-one-of-the-top-full-service-law-firm/international-commercial-arbitration/

EMPLOYMENT

  • Advised a large multinational on the employees’ termination or transfer consequent to the transfer of the business of the Indian leg
  • Represented a number of companies in POSH Matters
  • Held interrogative interviews in termination of Head of Human Resources is a leading IT major and made recommendations to the management of the client
  • Conducted interviews and counseling sessions with the employees’ relation to misappropriation of funds in a corporate fraud
  • Read more about our practice here- https://singhania.in/singhania-partners-llp-is-one-of-the-top-full-service-law-firm/employment/

REGULATORY

  • Successfully led the client against Security Exchange Board of India
  • Representing State Bank of India in a Show Cause Notice from Directorate of Enforcement, and Proceedings under Money Laundering Act for mortgaged property
  • National Company Law Tribunal in numerous insolvency and bankruptcy matters
  • Assisted and advised REC Transmission Projects Co. Ltd. in legal & regulatory aspects for selection of a developer for Transmission System
  • Advisory to a US-based Not For Profit on applicable laws in India under Foreign Contribution Regulation Act

REAL ESTATE

  • Assisted a Japanese shipping company in securing office space in India. Our legal research identified that the title chain had certain gaps that could’ve had legal implications in the future.
  • Handheld Leisure Hotels Private Limited when they were ensuring paper-work for setting-up resort cum residential township.
  • In Taj Hotel’s deal with Aura Hotels we ensured that the minimum performance obligation on the operator remained water-tight and had minimum carve-outs.

Read more about our practice here https://singhania.in/real-estate/

INTELLECTUAL PROPERTY

  • Successfully represented our client in opposition against the apple Inc.
  • We have been acting on behalf of The Institut national de l’origine et de la qualité is the French organization for more than 10 years, in matters related to the protection of the Geographical Indication (GI), in India.
  • Representing, a 60-year-old well-known fashion footwear manufacturer for securing and protecting Trademark Portfolio.
  • Acted for a leader in the motion picture industry before the Indian Trademark Registry. Also, we are representing client, in seeking protection of its mark as “Well-Known”.
  • Tiger Coating GmbH, Sun Chemicals, Mc-Graw Hill Education, and IIM Calcutta Innovation Park has been associated with us for close to a decade
  • Read more about our practice here- https://singhania.in/practice-area-intellectual-property-rights2/

BANKING AND FINANCE

  • Advisors on a number of stand-alone projects of Power Finance Corporation and in consortium lending of projects of vast social and public importance to lend in priority sectors Solar Power.
  • Advice to borrowers and the lenders in domestic and international financing, conduct pre-investment due diligence reviews, drafting of agreements and negotiation support, assistance with regulatory compliance and governance, and bank guarantee disputes.
  • Read more about our practice here- https://singhania.in/singhania-partners-llp-is-one-of-the-top-full-service-law-firm/banking-and-finance/

CLIENT: Venkateswara Rao Sunkara
COMPANY/FIRM: S&P Capital IQ (India) Private Limited
TESTIMONIAL: We are engaging Singhania & Partners’ services on matters related to corporate compliance and advisory and general advisory on matters relating to labour laws. We’ve always felt that on giving the firm an assignment, we could be rest assured that it would be dealt with appropriately. I would recommend your firm without a second thought.


CLIENT: Gunjan Sharma
COMPANY/FIRM: Arab Potash
TESTIMONIAL: Beyond regular professional services, Singhania & Partners was supportive and maintained transparency in all their work. The management was very helpful.


CLIENT: Tom Pasakarnis
COMPANY/FIRM: Janis Research Company
TESTIMONIAL: We were having extensive contractual difficulty with a large Indian Government institution. They were very prompt in responding to our request and they immediately went to work in providing us with exceptionally clear, thorough and knowledgeable information about our case. The information they provided enabled us to return to the government entity and to work through a most difficult administrative, and threatening to be legally-problematic, situation. We were treated like an old, valued and highly-regarded client. Their fee structure was also reasonable.


CLIENT: Kumar Subir Ranjan
COMPANY/FIRM: Punj Lloyd
TESTIMONIAL: Singhania & Partners has always kept our needs first. Our company’s opinions are always valued and we were always reassured when we had doubts. Mr. Shambhu Sharan and his team of young and energetic attorneys went above and beyond to ensure a great outcome. They not only built a strong case but also followed up and supported each of our interests throughout.


CLIENT:
COMPANY/FIRM: A renowned Infrastructure Company
TESTIMONIAL: One couldn’t have asked for a better law firm or attorney. Singhania and Partners have a robust pan-India presence. I would recommend this firm for their professionalism, honesty, integrity, transparency and much-valued partnership.


CLIENT:
COMPANY/FIRM: A Leading Engineering and Construction Company
TESTIMONIAL: Singhania & Partners is one of the best law firms around, known for their great service and prompt professional responses. We found the legal representation that we were looking for, working with them, and have been associated with them since 2011. Our Company could not have been better represented professionally.


CLIENT: S C Hans
COMPANY/FIRM: Railtel India
TESTIMONIAL: We are quite satisfied with the legal services Singhania & Partners provided to us, with promptness. We appreciate the hard work put in by the team of professionals in respective areas of practice.


CLIENT: Vinod G. Mahria
COMPANY/FIRM: Indian Govt. Mint
TESTIMONIAL: Being an HR head, I’m used to stressful situations, but when dealing with legal issues, one really needs someone intelligent, efficient, experienced and with excellent attention to detail. We have been fortunate to find that with Singhania & Partners. Their skills and knowledge are impressive. I’d strongly recommend them in service matters.


CLIENT:
COMPANY/FIRM: A Govt. of India Enterprise
TESTIMONIAL: Words cannot express how grateful we are to Singhania & Partners. Immediately after the first round of briefing, they made me feel comfortable and confident. With their counsel, our two SLPs have been admitted by the Hon’ble Supreme Court though chances were very remote.


CLIENT: Jyoti Swaroop Arora
COMPANY/FIRM: WSP Consultants
TESTIMONIAL: With their hands-on approach, Singhania & Partners has benefitted us with timely and useful advice in almost all the cases. They helped us in quick approval of our merger from the jurisdictional High Court. They helped with efficient resolution of a client’s counterclaims.


Singhania & Partners is one amongst India’s Top Rated Full-service Law Firms in rankings released by reputed legal directories such as Chambers and Partners, Legal500, Indian Business Law Journal, Benchmark Litigation, RSG-Consulting, and Asialaw Profiles across practice areas.

The firm is engaged in diverse areas of practice with dedicated teams for corporate, international arbitration, litigation, employment, construction, banking & finance, and IPR matters.

S&P assists clients in foreign direct investments, structuring of the domestic business encompassing regulatory compliances, corporate & real estate due diligence, cross-border transactions, mergers & acquisitions, external commercial borrowings, repatriation, and technology licensing. Additionally, the firm offers advisory on FEMA & RBI regulations that encompasses the entire gamut of foreign exchange laws.

With their legal expertise, they guarantee foreign and Indian clients the most flexible, sustainable, and inclusive solutions for investment and dispute resolution in Indian Jurisdiction and ensure seamless operation of their respective businesses.

Singhania & Partners firm’s clients include major Indian businesses and multinational corporations including Fortune 500 companies. The firm also assists private clients, HNI, and NRI families for wills and estates as well as investments in start-ups, and tech ventures. The firm advises numerous ministries, government authorities, and public sector undertakings.

S&P strives not only to achieve the objectives of the client but also ensure that the deal is fair to the other party too. The firm also provides value addition on practical business aspects in the transaction and suggests clients litigation only when they must.

Singhania and Partners LLP has strong experience in handling international arbitrations keeping the seat in India and outside India like Singapore, U.K, China, Switzerland, Canada, and many more. The firm also provides consultation at the time of negotiation of contracts to incorporate effective arbitration clauses. We conduct both institutional and ad hoc arbitrations.

Memberships and International Affiliations

The firm is also a member of TerraLex, a premier network of law firm’s offices worldwide. The membership of TerraLex provides the firm with trusted advisors in more than 163 jurisdictions in cross-border matters.
The firm’s partners are regularly invited to speak in reputed Indian and international foras on issues of importance to legal community. Click here to subscribe to our YouTube Channel

Knowledge sharing with a global audience

  • S&P believes in knowledge sharing. Our lawyers regularly write on topical legal issues on our firm’s blog . Our writings on various practice areas are published on Bar & Bench, Lexology, Mondaq, and Livelaw.
  • We have also authored books on Employment and Labour Laws in India, Drafting of Contracts, and White-Collar Crimes.
  • Our Arbitration Alerts, Doing Business in India series, and IP Times.law enjoy a strong readership.

Popularity of Arbitration for Commercial Dispute Resolution

When it comes to resolving disputes of commercial nature between the two parties, arbitration emerges as a preferred choice of Dispute Resolution Mechanism. In India, it is the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 as amended by the Arbitration & Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2021 (“Act”) that governs both the domestic and international arbitration. Like the domestic arbitrations,  International Commercial Arbitration is also a popular method of resolving commercial disputes in India where at least one of the parties to the contract is an individual having nationality of another country other than India or a body corporate which is incorporated in any country other than India or an association or a body of individuals whose central management and control is exercised in any country other than India or the government of a foreign country. One of the reasons behind International Arbitration being the preferred choice for resolving commercial disputes, is the expeditious process of dispute resolution. The Act sets out that the award in the matter of international commercial arbitration may be made as expeditiously as possible and endeavour may be made to dispose off the matter within a period of twelve (12) months from the date of completion of pleadings.

The law of arbitration in India is evolving to be more arbitration friendly as well as to be in tandem with the International legal arena. Recently, the Supreme Court of India in a landmark judgment in PASL Wind Solutions Private Limited Vs. GE Power Conversion has affirmed the concept of “Party Autonomy” thereby allowing even two Indian/Domestic parties to choose a foreign seated arbitration.

International arbitration is also chosen as a preferred mode of dispute resolution because of the impeccable reputation and credibility attached to the institutions conducting institutional arbitrations like the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), DIAC (Delhi International Arbitration Centre), ICA (Indian Council of Arbitration) etc.

Governing Law for Arbitration in India

The Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 governs international arbitration and is based on UNCITRAL Model Law. To bring India on par with the international practices adopted in the field of arbitration law, the courts in India through various pronouncements have observed parity with the UNCITRAL Model Law.

Enforceability of Arbitration Agreement

As per the Act, the following are the statutory requirements for an arbitration agreement:

  • Arbitration Agreement, which may be in the form of an arbitral clause in a contract or in the form of a separate agreement, to be in writing i.e. contained in a document signed by the parties or through exchange of letters, telex, telegrams or other means of telecommunications, including communication through electronic means, providing a record of the agreement.
  • Intention of the parties to refer any or all disputes arising of the underlying contract to arbitration must be indicated in the arbitration agreement.

Validity of Arbitration Agreement

As a general principle, disputes relating to “rights in rem” (i.e. issues/disputes against public at large) are incapable of being referred to arbitration such as issues in relation to criminal offences involving serious allegations of fraud, matrimonial, guardianship disputes, Insolvency petitions, testamentary suits, labour and Industrial disputes etc.

Non-Arbitrable Disputes

  • Disputes affecting third party rights held non-arbitrable
  • Disputes relating to sovereign and public interest functions of the state held non-arbitrable
  • Disputes non-arbitrable under a specific statute

National Courts’ Approach

Party autonomy weighs heavily with the Courts and the guiding factor continues to be the intent of parties to resort to arbitration. The courts have repeatedly held that where there is an arbitration clause in an agreement, parties would have to be mandatorily referred to arbitration.

The courts in India have observed that the true spirit and sanctity of arbitration needs to be kept intact with minimalistic intervention by judicial authorities.

Severability of an Arbitration Agreement

The rule of separability is recognised and applicable to arbitration clauses. In cases where the main contract expires or gets terminated, the courts have held that the arbitration clause would still exist and can be resorted to for resolution of disputes between the parties, including the dispute related to validity of the agreement.

Limits on Selection of Arbitral Tribunal

Under Indian law, there are no limits on the parties’ autonomy to select arbitrators. Parties are free to nominate any person of their choice as an arbitrator. The only condition to the appointment of an arbitrator is that the arbitrator/s so appointed is independent and impartial and fulfil requirements of section 12. In cases where it is specified, the arbitrator/s should possess such qualifications as agreed to by the parties. The parties are free to agree on the number of arbitrators, although there must be an odd number, as prescribed under S. 10 of the Act.

Default Procedures for selection of Arbitral Tribunal

Indian law recognises party autonomy and keeps it in high regard. However, if the parties’ chosen method of appointing arbitrators fails, the Act under Section 11 provides for the appointment of arbitrators.

In the case of international commercial arbitrations, the power to appoint an arbitrator is vested with the Supreme Court of India, and in arbitrations other than international commercial arbitrations, the power to appoint an arbitrator is exercised by the High Court only. For the appointment of an arbitrator, a party has to file a petition under Section 11 seeking the appointment of an arbitrator.

Court Intervention in selection of the arbitrators

The intervention of court is seen only in cases where the court must determine whether the mandate of an arbitrator stands terminated on account of such arbitrator becoming de jure or de facto unable to perform his functions on the touchstone of independence or impartiality under Section 14.

The challenge by a party to selection/appointment by a party must be decided by the arbitral tribunal in the first place. However, the court intervenes only in such cases where an arbitrator fails to pass muster on account of one or the other grounds mentioned in the Seventh Schedule of the Act.

Challenge and Removal of Arbitrators in India

S.12, S.13 and S.14 of the Arbitration Act governs the grounds and procedure for challenge or removal of arbitrators.

Section 12: Following grounds for termination of arbitrator are provided:

  • Circumstances that give rise to justifiable doubts as to the arbitrators’ impartiality or independence under schedule V.
  • Lack of the qualifications agreed between the parties.
  • Anyone who falls under any of the categories specified in Schedule VII shall be ineligible to be appointed as an arbitrator.
  • Requirement of declaration under Section 12 read with Schedule V and VII of the Act about his independence and impartiality.

Grounds of Termination of Arbitrator

  • Inability to perform functions
  • Withdrawal from office
  • Parties agree for his/her termination

Section 13: Challenge procedure before the arbitral tribunal is discussed. A party must submit a written statement of the reasons for the challenge to the arbitral tribunal within 15 days from the date when the party learns the facts and circumstances on which the challenge is based. If the challenge is not successful, the arbitral tribunal continues with the arbitral proceedings and pronounces the award.

Section 14 – The court under Section 14 may entertain an application challenging the appointment of an arbitrator after its dismissal by the arbitral tribunal if the disqualification falls under the category of Schedule VII to the Act.

Criteria for Arbitrator

The Arbitration Act prescribes detailed litmus to ascertain the independence and impartiality of a potential arbitrator. Arbitrators must disclose the following details under Section 12 subject to subject to schedule V:

  • Personal and/or professional relationship with parties or their counsel.
  • Relationship with the dispute.
  • Interest in the dispute.

Circumstances for Court Intervention

As explained above, the power of the courts to intervene in arbitration matters is very limited, including the jurisdictional issue which is also decided by the arbitral tribunal under Section 16. It lays down that any objections to the jurisdiction of the tribunal must be raised before the filing of the Statement of Defence as stated under S.16(2). However, if the plea raised by a party under Section 16 is allowed by the arbitral tribunal, then the court can hear an appeal against such order under Section 37 of the Act. If a plea raised by a party under Section 16 is rejected, the arbitral tribunal continues with the arbitral proceedings and makes the arbitral award. If the arbitral tribunal rules that it does not have jurisdiction, the ruling can be challenged by way of appeal before a court under Section 37.

Breach of Arbitration Agreement

The court only looks for the existence of the arbitration agreement, and if the arbitration agreement does exist then the court, applying the principle of minimum court intervention, has to refer the parties for arbitration in the terms of Section 8 of the Act. The aggrieved party can make an application under S.8 of the Arbitration Act, seeking reference to arbitration in light of the arbitration agreement. If a party does not make its objection no later than filing its first statement then such a statement on the substance of the dispute before the court would be deemed as a waiver of the arbitration agreement.

Third Parties

Ordinarily, arbitration takes place between persons who have been parties to both the arbitration agreement and the substantive contact underlying it.

Therefore, essentially parties that are not a party to the arbitration agreement cannot be forced to resolve disputes through arbitration in terms of S.7 of the Arbitration Act, unless there is explicit consent, even if their presence has a bearing on the matter in dispute.

Group of Companies’ Doctrine: An arbitration agreement entered by a company within a group of corporate entities can in certain circumstances bind non-signatory affiliates. Under this doctrine, a non-signatory party could be subjected to arbitration. The Supreme Court in the case of Chloro Controls (I) Pvt. Ltd. v Severn Trent Water Purification Inc. and Ors. (2013) 1 SCC 641 has also taken the view that parties involved in a composite transaction executed through several agreements may be subject to the arbitration agreement under the main or the parent agreement.

Preliminary and Interim Relief

The arbitral tribunal in India is empowered to award interim relief during the arbitral proceedings. The power to grant interim relief has been expressly provided under Section 17 (1) of the act. The interim relief ordered by the arbitral tribunal are enforceable under Section 17 (2). A party may, seek the following kinds of interim relief:

  • The appointment of a guardian for a minor or person of unsound mind
  • Interim measure like preservation, interim custody or sale of any goods etc.
  • Securing the amount in dispute in the arbitration.
  • Detention, preservation or inspection of any property or thing
  • Interim injunction or the appointment of a receiver.
  • Other interim measures of which are just and convenient.

Interim measures by court

The courts in India are also empowered to grant interim relief. The power to grant interim relief has been expressly provided in Section 9 of the act which sets out interim measures by the court. The court under Section 9 can grant interim relief at three stages, i.e., before or during arbitral proceedings or at any time after the making of the arbitral award but before it is enforced in accordance with Section 36 of the Act.

In interim relief sought by a party before the commencement of arbitral proceedings, if the court orders protection before the commencement of the arbitral proceedings then the arbitral proceedings shall have to be commenced within a period of 90 days. If a party seeks interim relief from a court even when the arbitral tribunal is constituted, then the court shall not entertain an application seeking unless the court finds that circumstances exist which may not render the remedy provided under Section 17 efficacious. Apart from granting interim relief under Section 9 of the Act, the courts also possess the appellate jurisdiction under Section 37 of the Act

The courts in India can grant interim relief under Section 9 of the Act in aid of foreign-seated arbitrations. Section 2 (2) of the Act, confers right upon the parties to a foreign-seated arbitration to approach Indian courts for interim relief provided there is no agreement to the contrary.

The Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 governing the arbitral proceedings in India does not provide for the use of emergency arbitrators. However, in case a party needs urgent interim relief when the arbitral tribunal is not constituted then in such an eventuality a party can approach the court in the meanwhile and seek urgent interim relief under Section 9 of the Act.

Security for Costs

Although the act does not allow for the courts or arbitral tribunal to order security for costs, the Act under Section 31A allows a discretionary power to the court or arbitral tribunal to determine the following:

Section 31A – Arbitration & Conciliation Act

  • Costs are payable by one party to another
  • Amount of costs
  • When costs are to be paid

Procedure

Governing Rules

In India, parties to arbitration, unless otherwise agreed between the parties, are governed by the rules prescribed under the Arbitration & Conciliation Act, 1996 in respect of pleadings, trial and completion of arbitration proceedings. The Act, however, gives full autonomy to the parties to mutually agree and adopt any other rules for conducting the arbitral proceedings.

The parties may also choose to adopt rules specified by arbitration institutions, to the extent they are not in contravention of the non-derogable rules prescribed under the Act.

Procedural Steps

  1. The Act prescribes that an arbitration can be initiated only by way of a notice invoking it where the arbitral proceeding is deemed to have commenced on the date when the notice invoking of a dispute is received.
  2. Parties are free to determine the number of arbitrators however; the arbitrators are to be in odd numbers. In case of his death, a substitute arbitrator will be appointed by following the similarly process.
  3. The arbitration proceeding, in the absence of an agreement to the contrary, shall resume from the stage as may be directed by the tribunal in its discretion.
  4. In a domestic arbitration the pleadings have to be completed within a maximum period of six months.
  5. The arbitral tribunal after completion of pleadings shall proceed to trial in the matter whereby parties shall be allowed to lead their respective witnesses who would be subject to cross-examination by the opposite side.
  6. On the conclusion of oral hearings, the arbitral tribunal is obliged to make an award on the disputes between the parties. In a domestic arbitration (where parties are Indian entities), it is obligatory for the arbitrator to make the award within a period of 12 months from the date of completion of pleadings for making the award. The time limits for completion of pleading and for making of an award are not mandatory in the case of an international commercial arbitration where any one or more parties are foreign entities, however, the endeavour is made to pronounce the award with 12 months of completion of pleadings.
  7. A party may apply for injunction or interim protection during the arbitral proceedings.

Confidentiality

In terms of Section 42A of the Act, it is mandatory for the parties to the arbitral proceedings, the arbitral tribunal, and the arbitration institution to keep the arbitral proceedings including pleadings, documents, etc, confidential.

The Award

Legal Requirements of an Arbitral Award

  • Must be in Writing and signed by each member of the tribunal
  • Contain reasons on which it is based
  • State the date and place of the award
  • A signed copy must be delivered to each party
  • Stamp duty must be paid on the award

An application seeking extension of time for the tribunal to pronounce the award can be made only before the court which is competent to appoint arbitration in each case.

In international commercial arbitrations (where one of the parties to the dispute is a foreign entity the Act provides that the tribunal should endeavour to deliver the award within the period of twelve (12) months from the date of completion of pleadings. However, it is not mandatory.

Types of Remedies

The Act does not provide any specific limits on the remedies that an arbitral tribunal may award. However, the tribunals are bound to publish the award only in respect of the subject matter of the case. The remedies that can be granted by arbitral tribunal are the same as can be allowed by the civil courts in India in contractual matters. However, an arbitral tribunal can pass an award only in respect of parties to the arbitration agreement and not against third parties. Damages can only be compensatory in nature and punitive damages for breach of contract are not permitted in India.

Recovering Interest and Legal Costs

Interest

The Act empowers the arbitral tribunal to award interest on whole or any part of the sum awarded, unless otherwise agreed by the parties. The Act also provides that an arbitral award shall carry interest at the rate of 2% higher than the current rate of interest prevalent.

Legal Cost

Unless otherwise agreed between the parties under the agreement, the arbitral tribunal is empowered to award legal costs in favour of the successful party, for costs incurred during the pendency of the arbitration proceedings, including the arbitrator’s fee, administrative expenses and any other expenses.

Review of an Award

Grounds for Appeal

The Act, though, allows a party to challenge the arbitral award on very restricted grounds under Section 34 of the Act by making an application for setting aside of the same.

Challenge to Domestic Awards: The domestic award can only be challenged on the following grounds:

  • A party was under some incapacity; or
  • The arbitration agreement is invalid or
  • No proper notice of appointment of arbitrator was given
  • The award dealt with was beyond the scope of the reference to arbitration; or
  • The composition of the arbitral tribunal or the arbitral procedure was not in accordance with the agreement between the parties
  • The subject is not capable of being settled by arbitration; or
  • The award conflicts with the public policy of India
  • The award is vitiated by patent illegality appearing on the face of the award.

A party challenging the award under Section 34 of the Act is required to serve a prior notice of 30 days upon the opposite party. The Act prescribes that courts should endeavour to dispose of an application for setting aside the award expeditiously or within a period of one year from the date when the notice was served upon the opposite party

Limitation Period

Under the Act, an application must be made within three months from the receipt of the award from the arbitral tribunal, or in the case where a request has been made by any party under Section 33 of the Act, i.e., for correction, three months from the date on which that request had been disposed of by the arbitral tribunal.

Recourse against a Foreign Award in India

Part II of the Act deals with the provisions relating to enforcement of certain foreign awards. However, a foreign award cannot be executed in India if the same is falling within the grounds mentioned in Section 48 of the Act.

Excluding/Expanding the Scope of Appeal

Under the Act, the scope for challenging the arbitral award is very limited.

The Supreme Court of India has held that even an appeal would not be allowed to be filed beyond 120 days unless there is any exceptional circumstance preventing the parties to prefer an appeal within the said period of 120 days.

Standard of Judicial Review

While reviewing the challenge to the arbitral award, the courts in this jurisdiction are strictly prohibited from reviewing and re-examining the merits of a case or substituting their own views for those of the arbitral tribunal.

Further, the courts can either set aside or uphold the award but cannot modify an arbitral award. However, if an award in respect of some disputes is severable from the award passed in relation to other disputes, courts can set aside only a part of the award which is liable to be set aside.

Enforcement of an Arbitration Award in India

Procedure for Enforcement of Arbitration Awards in India

Domestic Arbitral Awards:

In India, Domestic Arbitral Awards can be executed/enforced like a decree by making an application under Section 36(1) of the Act. A party must positively pay the requisite stamp duty on the award which varies from state to state. An award that has been set aside by the court cannot be enforced/executed in India. In India, an arbitral award may be enforced/executed even if the proceedings for setting aside such award is pending before the court, unless the court grants a stay of the operation of such award by recording reasons in writing and subject to the conditions it may deem fit.  There is no sovereign immunity available to the state or state entity against enforcement of an arbitral award.

Foreign Awards:

Chapter I of the Act deals with provisions relating to the New York Convention Awards and Chapter II with the provisions relating to the Geneva Convention Awards. In practice, only awards relating to the New York Convention are sought to be enforced in India. In India, a foreign award can be enforced by filing an application under Section 47 of the Act before the competent court having jurisdiction. Requirements of section 47 are:

  • Application to state all relevant facts
  • Application to be submitted with original documents
  • Any other evidence necessary to be submitted

The court may refuse to enforce a foreign award in India, if it is satisfied that under section 48 of the act it is based on:

  • Incapacity of parties
  • Invalid agreement under the law
  • No proper notice of appointment of arbitrator was given
  • Foreign award was beyond scope of Indian Laws
  • Matter beyond scope of arbitration
  • Composition of tribunal was incompetent
  • Award was in conflict with public policy

Approach of the Courts

Indian courts generally adopt a pro-arbitration approach, even when the award is subjected to a challenge by one of the parties. Broadly speaking, unless the award is such as would shock the conscience of the court or be violative of public policy in India, courts would be reluctant to interfere.

The courts have held that the award of the arbitrator is generally treated as the last and final word.

The courts in India can refuse to enforce a foreign award on the grounds of the public policy of India, only if the courts find that the award was induced or affected by fraud or corruption, or if the award is in contravention of the fundamental policy of Indian law.

Miscellaneous

Class-Action or Group Arbitration

In a few cases like matters relating to payment of compensation by the government for land acquisition or where landowners are clubbed together Class Action or Group Arbitration is considered.

Third-Party Funding

Third-party funding by advocates is not permissible in India due to the Bar Council of India’s rules of professional conduct. However, there is no restriction on third parties who are non-lawyers to fund the litigation and get repaid after the outcome of the same.

Consolidation

The arbitral tribunal does not have any power to consolidate separate arbitral proceedings, even if the parties are the same. However, the Supreme Court of India in P.R. Shah v BHH Securities [(2012) 1 SCC 594], allowed the consolidation of arbitral proceedings if the contracts under question have arbitration agreements. In a situation where parties have multiple arbitrations and the same arbitrator is appointed, either separate awards can be passed in respect of each contract or a common award can be passed.

Third Parties

The Act does not specifically provide that a third party or the non-signatory can also be bound in an arbitration proceeding. The Supreme Court of India, in catena of judgments have concluded that even a non-signatory can be said to be bound by the arbitration agreement.

The Act allows a third party to apply for the referral of arbitration proceedings when it is ‘through’ or ‘under’ or on behalf of the party to the arbitration agreement.

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TerraLex Inc. is a global network consisting of top law firms and lawyers with over three decades of support for its member law firms operating in different corners of the world. The aim of this organization is to provide trusted and quality legal service that resolves issues of all scopes. Singhania & Partners LLP is the Indian member of TerraLex Inc.

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