Saturday, 29 August 2020

Delhi HC: Court may issue interim orders against the third parties to arbitration only in exceptional circumstances

 Undoubtedly, section 9 provides that the court shall have the same powers for making interim orders under section 9 as a civil court has for the purpose of, and in relation to, any proceedings before it, and the powers of a civil court in this regard are very wide. The civil courts as and when required, and deemed appropriate in the facts and circumstances of a particular case have been making interim orders in respect of third parties, such as: interim injunction restraining third party-banks from honouring bank guarantees; attaching defendant's monies/property in hands of third party trustee, debtor, agent etc; restraining third party-subsequent transferee/person claiming rights in suit property from disposing of the same, and the like. As a corollary, the power of the court to issue interim orders under section 9 cannot be confined only to the parties to arbitration agreement. However, a significant parameter inherent in section 9, for exercise of this power against a non-signatory to arbitration agreement, is that the purpose of section 9 is to aid arbitration between the parties thereto, and the interim orders there under have to be with regard to subject matter of arbitration/in connection with the arbitral proceedings. In this context, it is relevant to draw a distinction between orders granting interim relief against a party to the arbitration agreement which incidentally affects a third party, on one hand, and orders granting relief directed against a third party, on the other. While the former is ordinarily acceptable as being within the scope of section 9, the power with respect to the latter should be exercised sparingly. For instance, an order appointing a third party as a receiver or guardian of a minor/person of unsound mind is not an order against the third party, or detrimental to its rights as such. Rather, it is a relief granted to the petitioner in support of the arbitral proceedings and affects the party to the arbitration agreement. Similarly, when a subsequent transferee, or a person claiming title under a party to arbitration is ordered to maintain status quo, or not to dispose of property which is subject matter of arbitration, it is again ancillary to arbitral proceedings in as much, as, it is for protection of the subject matter of arbitration that the order is passed. An injunction, or order of attachment with respect to the properties belonging to/monies owed to a party to arbitration, but in hands of a third party for/on behalf of the said party, is effectively a relief against the said party, which incidentally affects the third party. Pertinently, it is expressly provided in the C.P.C., that attachment before judgment shall not affect the prior existing rights of third parties in the property of the defendant sought to be attached. Injunction against a third party bank from honouring a bank guarantee is consequential to interim relief of restraining a party from encashing the same against the petitioner. To sum up, the court may issue interim orders against the third parties to arbitration only in exceptional circumstances which are such that denial thereof might frustrate the petitioner's rights in arbitration; defeat the very object of arbitration between the parties thereto; render the arbitration proceedings infructuous; lead to gross injustice; and/or, leave the petitioner remediless, depending on facts of each case."
IN THE HIGH COURT OF DELHI

O.M.P. (I) (COMM) No. 35/2020 and I.A. 3251/2020

Decided On: 10.06.2020

Blue Coast Infrastructure Development Pvt. Ltd.  Vs.  Blue Coast Hotels Ltd. and Ors.


Hon'ble Judges/Coram:
Jyoti Singh, J.

Citation: MANU/DE/1259/2020.
Read full judgment here: Click here
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