Parties entitled to approach the Court again, where the law is altered since the earlier decision

Delhi High Court: While considering a petition for the appointment of a sole neutral arbitrator in connection with a dispute between two parties on which an earlier petition had been dismissed by the Court, the Single Bench of Vibhu Bakhru, J. held that solely because an earlier petition on similar grounds has been dismissed, the present petition cannot be rejected since the matter in issue is not the same as in the previous proceeding, because the law interpreted is different and amended.

In the present case, the petitioners invoked the arbitration clause in case of a dispute between the parties and sought appointment of an arbitrator to adjudicate the disputes. The respondents suggested persons who were their own employees, because of which the petitioners doubted rendering of a fair and impartial decision by them. Also, one of their earlier petitions for similar reliefs had been rejected by the Supreme Court, and therefore the respondents opposed the present petition.

This Court, while admitting the petition, appointed an independent and neutral arbitrator saying that even if the arbitration clause in the contract entered into between the parties allows the appointment of an arbitrator who would otherwise be ineligible by virtue of him being an employee of the other company, such an arbitrator is not empowered to settle the dispute in view of the Arbitration and Reconciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015. Subsequently, it also held that the amended law would apply to the proceedings as the parties had expressly agreed to make applicable any statutory modifications. [Madhava Hytech-Rani v. Ircon International Limited, 2016 SCC OnLine Del 6326, decided on 19.12.2016]

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