Payment of Stamp Duty not a Requisite for Enforcement of a Foreign Arbitration Award in India

In the case of Shriram EPC Limited v. Rioglass Solar SA,[1] the SC held that non-payment of stamp duty would not render a foreign arbitration award unenforceable in India. The Supreme Court found that the term ‘award’ under Item 12 of Schedule I of the Indian Stamp Act, 1889 (‘Stamp Act’) has never included a foreign award, from the date of commencement of the Stamp Act till date.

Tracing the history of the Stamp Act, the erstwhile provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1882 and the Indian Arbitration Act, 1899, the SC concluded that the Stamp Act only referred to an award made in the territory of British India provided that such award was not made pursuant to a reference made by an order of the Court in the course of a suit. Accordingly, an award made in a princely State or in a foreign country, if enforced by means of a suit in British India, would not be covered by the expression ‘award’ as contained in Item 12 of Schedule I of the Stamp Act. The Supreme Court noted that this position has remained unchanged even after the introduction of the Arbitration Act, and, therefore, a foreign award is not liable to stamp duty under the Stamp Act.

[1] Judgment dated September 13, 2018, in Civil Appeal No. 9515 of 2018 (Supreme Court of India)

Published In:Inter Alia - Quarterly Edition - September 2018 [ English Chinese japanese ]
Date: September 1, 2018