Economic Laws Practice review the Delhi High Court’s 1 July 2019 decision in ONGC Petro Additions Limited v. Tecnimont S.P.A. & Anr.( O.M.P. (COMM) 196/2019 & I.A. 7134/2019), where during arbitration proceedings (and less than one month before the commencement of the hearing), ONGC sought leave from the tribunal to file additional documents after the time period for completion of pleadings and production of documents had expired. The tribunal made an order rejecting the application, and ONGC filed a petition in the Delhi High Court under section 34 of the Act to set aside the Order.
The primary issue arising for consideration was whether the Order constituted an “interim award” under section 2(1)(c) of the Act and thereby amenable to challenge under section 34 of the Act.
The Court concluded that the Order was a procedural order and did not decide or finally dispose of any issue. The Court noted that in making a procedural order, the tribunal may determine certain valuable rights of the parties but that did not mean that such determination would render an order as an arbitral award, and that to determine whether an order is an interim award, two factors have to be determined – finality and issue. In the present case, the Order was not ‘final’ as it did not conclusively decide an issue in the arbitration proceedings and matters of procedure were to be left to the arbitral tribunal.