Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Whether Commercial courts should hold Summary trial even if there are disputed questions of facts?

IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI

CS (COMM) 1155/2018, I.As. 13597/2018 and 14309/2018

Decided On: 30.10.2019

Su-Kam Power Systems Ltd. Vs.   Kunwer Sachdev

Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
Manmohan, J.
Citation: 2019 SCCOnline Del 10764

 The Commercial Courts Act, 2015 has been enacted with the intent to improve efficiency and reduce delay in disposal of commercial cases. The relevant portion of the Statement of Objects and Reasons of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 is reproduced hereinbelow:-

"to have a streamlined procedure which is to be adopted for the conduct of cases in the Commercial Courts and in the Commercial Divisions by amending the Code of Civil Procedure 1908, so as to improve the efficiency and reduce delays in disposal of commercial cases. The proposed case management system and provisions for summary judgment will enable disposal of commercial disputes in a time bound manner."


(emphasis supplied)


40. Amended Order XIIIA of CPC, as applicable to commercial disputes, enables the Court to decide a claim or part thereof without recording oral evidence. Order XIIIA of CPC seeks to avoid the long drawn process of leading oral evidence in certain eventualities. Consequently, the said provision enables disposal of commercial disputes in a time bound manner and promotes the object of the Commercial Courts Act, 2015.

41. Rule 3 of Order XIII-A of CPC empowers the Court to grant a summary judgment against a defendant where on an application filed in that regard, the Court considers that the defendant has no real prospect of successfully defending a claim, and there is no other compelling reason why the claim should not be disposed of before recording of oral evidence. Order XIIIA (3) of CPC, as applicable to commercial disputes, is reproduced hereinbelow:-

"3. Grounds for summary judgment.--The Court may give a summary judgment against a plaintiff or defendant on a claim if it considers that-

(a) the plaintiff has no real prospect of succeeding on the claim or the defendant has no real prospect of successfully defending the claim, as the case may be; and

(b) there is no other compelling reason why the claim should not be disposed of before recording of oral evidence."

(emphasis supplied)

42. Consequently, the new Rule, applicable to commercial disputes, demonstrates that trial is no longer the default procedure/norm.

To reiterate, the intent behind incorporating the summary judgment procedure in the Commercial Court Act, 2015 is to ensure disposal of commercial disputes in a time-bound manner. In fact, the applicability of Order XIIIA, CPC to commercial disputes, demonstrates that the trial is no longer the default procedure/norm.
The Supreme Court of Canada in Robert Hryniak v. Fred Mauldin and Ors, 2014 SCC OnLine Can SC 53 has held that trial should not be the default procedure.

91. Rule 3 of Order XIIIA, CPC, as applicable to commercial disputes, empowers the Court to grant a summary judgment against the defendant where the Court considers that the defendant has no real prospects of successfully defending the claim and there is no other compelling reason why the claim should not be disposed of before recording of oral evidence. The expression "real" directs the Court to examine whether there is a "realistic" as opposed to "fanciful" prospects of success. This Court is of the view that the expression "no genuine issue requiring a trial" in Ontario Rules of Civil Procedure and "no other compelling reason.....for trial" in Commercial Courts Act can be read mutatis mutandis. Consequently, Order XIIIA, CPC would be attracted if the Court, while hearing such an application, can make the necessary finding of fact, apply the law to the facts and the same is a proportionate, more expeditious and less expensive means of achieving a fair and just result.

92. Accordingly, unlike ordinary suits, Courts need not hold trial in commercial suits, even if there are disputed questions of fact as held by the Canadian Supreme Court in Robert Hryniak (supra), in the event, the Court comes to the conclusion that the defendant lacks a real prospect of successfully defending the claim.

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