A lawyer for Amazon on Friday told the Delhi High Court that the e-commerce giant is constantly committed to helping Future Retail Limited (FRL) and it doesn’t want the company to go down. The lawyer argued that Amazon was in touch for the purpose of resolving the matter even till the time the Future-Reliance deal was made public.
The Delhi High Court is hearing the appeal filed by Future Retail Limited (FRL) against the Court's order passed earlier this week. It had asked FRL to maintain the status quo with respect to its $3.4 billion (about Rs 24,700 crore) deal with Reliance Retail. The court had said it was satisfied that an immediate interim order was required to be passed to protect the rights of e-commerce firm Amazon.
Earlier, Senior Advocate Harish Salve who appeared for FRL had highlighted the disruption caused due to the Covid-19 pandemic on Future's business and had informed the court that the retail firm may go bust and thousands may lose jobs due to Amazon's interference. He had argued how the deal with Reliance would take all the liabilities and save thousands of jobs and provide security to the banks and shareholders of Future. Salve had told the court that Amazon is opposing the deal as Reliance is a competitor.
“We are not acting out of any other motive. We are constantly committed to helping the company. It's not that we can't find a solution for FRL. We don't want the company to go down,” Senior Advocate Gopal Subramanium, who appeared for Amazon told the court, according to law platform Bar & Bench. “We are committed to our stand that we are willing to help. I want FRL to survive.”
In August 2020, the Future group struck a $3.4-billion asset sale deal with RIL. Amazon then sent a legal notice to Future, alleging the retailer’s deal breached an agreement with the American e-commerce firm. In 2019, Amazon had acquired a 49 per cent stake in Future Coupons (FCPL), the promoter entity of Future Retail, for about Rs 1,500 crore. The deal specified any disputes would be arbitrated under Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) rules.
Last year in October, Amazon won a favourable ruling for its plea in Singapore against Future Group striking a deal with Reliance Industries. Future has been told not to proceed with its sale of shares to RIL till the outcome of the arbitration process.
In December, the Delhi High Court, prima facie, found that the suit filed by Future Retail was maintainable, the Emergency Award was valid, and that Future Retail's resolution approving the transaction with Reliance was also valid. This year in January, The Delhi High Court (HC) served a notice on Future Retail (FRL), Reliance Retail, and the Biyanis, seeking their views on a plea by Amazon against some of the observations by a single judge Bench in a December 21, 2020, interim order.
On Friday in the court, Subramanium argued that Emergency Arbitrator (EA) was an institution agreed to by the parties and the promoters are part of the Arbitration agreement. He mentioned that Delhi High Court has been a leading court in Arbitration and many of the old judgements are as good as gold.
“Arbitration laws are integral. They (Future) must follow it for rule of law,” said Subramanium. “Contracts are by and large to be honoured. Parties must give primacy to the remedy that they have chosen.”
The matter is being heard before Division Bench of Chief Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh. The hearing has been adjourned till February 8.