- Indian court appoints arbitrator as a commissioner to record witness evidence abroad (Stemcor (S.E.A.) v Mideast Integrated Steels)
- What are the practical implications?
- What is the background of this decision?
- What did the Bombay High Court decide?
- Waiver by the respondents
- Taking evidence in Singapore does not amount to a change in venue
- Validity of the arbitrator’s order
- Reasons for ordering commissions
- Procedure for ordering commissions
Arbitration analysis: The Bombay High Court has addressed a critical issue on the examination of witnesses where they are not physically present at the seat of arbitration. In this case, one of the petitioners’ key witnesses refused to visit India ostensibly due to certain regulatory enquiries pending against him as he feared prosecution. The Bombay High Court, under Section 27 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (the A&C Act), appointed the arbitrator as the court commissioner and instructed the team of lawyers along with the commissioner, to travel to Singapore to record the witness’s evidence. A Letter of Request was also issued to the High Court of Singapore for the issuance of directions on cross examination and transmitting witness testimony back to the Bombay High Court. Bhavana Sunder, Payel Chatterjee & Sahil Kanuga, associates in the international litigation and dispute resolution team at Nishith Desai Associates consider the decision.
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