“Seat” versus “venue” – the saga resurrects

Indian Arbitration scenario has faced the challenge of judicial intervention and conflicting judgements vis-a’-vis designation of “seat” and “venue”. While, venue is merely a geographical location where the arbitration is conducted, seat determines the legal jurisdiction governing the arbitration proceeding. Complications can arise when a contract designates a specific “seat” while at the same time, confer jurisdiction on Court located in a different place.

This aspect was settled by Supreme Court in celebrated judgement of BALCO vs. Kaiser Aluminium Technical Services Inc. (2012) 9 SCC 552 and thereafter explained in judgement of BGS SGS Soma vs. NHPC (2020) 4 SCC 234. In these judgments concept of “contra indica” was developed as a test for determining “seat” of arbitration. However, recently various High Courts have given a different interpretation of contra indicia, again resurrecting confusion between seat and venue of arbitration.

Please click here to read the full article by Dheeraj Nair, Avni Sharma and Angad Baxi, published in Lexology.