Question of law: – Amalgamation of Seat and Venue
- The seat of arbitration has been described as the “juridical home” of the arbitration and the choice of seat generally determines which courts have jurisdiction to consider challenges to arbitral awards, appoint arbitrators and otherwise exercise judicial supervision over arbitral proceedings.
- The seat of an arbitration is fundamentally different from its ‘venue’, which expression is used to refer to the geographic location of the hearings or meetings in an arbitration.
In Brahmani River Pellets Limited v. Kamachi Industries Limited , the Supreme Court considered whether the Madras High Court had jurisdiction to appoint an arbitrator under section 11(6) of the Arbitration & Conciliation Act 1996 (the “Act”) in circumstances where the parties had specified Bhubaneswar as the ‘venue’ of the arbitration. The Supreme Court held that the choice of Bhubaneswar as the venue for arbitration meant that only the Orissa High Court would have jurisdiction to entertain a petition under section 11(6) of the Act for appointment of an arbitrator.
- Decision: Choice of Venue Excludes Jurisdiction of all other Courts
The Supreme Court held that where “the contract specifies the jurisdiction of the court at a particular place, only such court will have the jurisdiction to deal with the matter and parties intended to exclude all other courts”. Referring to the choice of Bhubaneswar as the venue of arbitration, the Supreme Court inferred that the parties intended to “exclude [the jurisdiction of] all other courts”. On this basis, it held that the Madras High Court erred in assuming jurisdiction and appointing an arbitrator and that such jurisdiction was vested exclusively in the Orissa High Court.