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Thursday, December 19, 2019

The "Hardy" Case

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Last semester, we had the subject of Arbitration in our course. Delving into it, one of the most important cases we studied was Union of India v. Hardy Exploration and Production (India) Inc. It is a landmark judgement by the Supreme Court of India, where the highest appellate court gave a clear distinction between the “seat” of arbitration and “venue” of arbitration in an agreement between the two parties to arbitrate disputes. 

Quick introduction to what is Arbitration: Arbitration is a method of alternate dispute resolution outside the courts, wherein the parties to a dispute refer it to one or more persons (the "arbitrators" or "arbitral tribunal"), by whose decision (the "award") they agree to be bound.

I am not going into details of the case, but those interested can read it here on Mondaq. But here’s the relevant paragraph from the article to understand what exactly is the significance of the case in arbitration-

“Aftermath of Hardy Case is that the Supreme Court has now settled the law that venue or place can be termed as seat of arbitration if something else is added to it as concomitant. The Court in Hardy Case didn't lay down the condition precedent(s)/situations in which 'place' in an arbitral clause can be construed as the Seat of arbitration as there are no exhaustive situations in which place can be construed as a seat and it depends on the facts and circumstances of each case.”

Now, during my current internship, I was called and asked if I have had a course on arbitration in college. And, then I was asked if I was aware of the “Hardy” case. Excited to have been asked something that I know of in detail (and remember), I explained all the positions held and the clarification of the law laid down by the Supreme Court. An amused, and half laughing voice from one side told me: “We all know that. That was our case, Hardy is our client.”

I was given further directions to work on some research questions in the same case. It may not be a huge thing, but for me I felt really happy, and a little proud, to be working on something that otherwise would have only been one of the many landmark cases that I study everyday in law school.

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