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A New Arbitrator to be appointed after demise of earlier appointed sole Arbitrator : Delhi High Court

The practice of arbitration holds key importance in resolving disputes thereby making an arbitrator absolutely integral to the process, in the case of demise or any other justifiable reason that causes the unavailability of the arbitrator, it is reasonable to seek appointment of another arbitrator to resolve the case. This was held in the judgment passed by a single bench judge comprising Hon’ble Mr. Justice Suresh Kumar Kait, in the matter of Enarch Consultants Pvt. Ltd v.  Lalji Superspeciality Hospital and Research (ARB.P. 644/2021) dealt with an issue where the petitioner filed for the appointment of another Arbitrator after the demise of the previously appointed sole Arbitrator.

In the present case, The petitioner under the provisions of Section 11(6) of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 sought appointment of Sole Arbitrator to adjudicate the dispute between the parties on a Contract Agreement that was entered between the petitioner and the respondent on 15.01.2016 regarding setting up of a 250 bed Hospital with Guest House facilities for M/s Lalji Super Speciality Hospital & Research Centre. During execution of the work related to the contract, certain disputes arose between the parties, which could not be settled Delhi High Court vide order dated 05.02.2018 [in Arbitration Petition No. 629/2017], petitioner-company invoked arbitration vide its letter dated 10.5.2017 in terms of Contract Agreement dated 15.01.2016. However, after rejection of petitioner’s invocation of arbitration by the respondent vide its letter dated 22.05.2017, petitioner approached this Court seeking appointment of Arbitrator under Section 11 of the Act.  The court appointed Justice (Retd.) Anil Kumar as Sole Arbitrator to adjudicate the disputes between petitioner and respondent.

After demise of sole Arbitrator Justice (Retd.) Anil Kumar on 22.04.2021, the petitioner submits for another Arbitrator to be appointed in this case, this was accepted by the counsel representing on the behalf of the respondent, who also submitted that since arbitration proceedings had already concluded and only Award was left to be pronounced, therefore, the entire proceedings be not conducted afresh. This contention by the respondent was not disputed by the petitioner. The petitioner’s counsel submitted the present petition be considered as the one under Sections 14 & 15 of the Act for substitution of the Arbitrator.

After hearing both the parties The hon’ble Delhi High court allowed the petition and accordingly appointed Justice (Retd.) V.P.Vaish  to be Sole Arbitrator to adjudicate the dispute between the parties and held that the Arbitrator shall ensure compliance of Section 12 of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 before commencing the arbitration. Also the fee of the Arbitrator shall be governed by the Fourth Schedule of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.

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