Arbitrator Has No Power To Lift Corporate Veil: Delhi High Court
By Team Legistify / 2017-05-19

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Arbitral Tribunal cannot bind other parties who have not agreed to arbitrate, the court said.

Holding that an arbitral tribunal does not have the power to lift the corporate veil, the Delhi High Court, in Sudhir Gopi vs IGNOU, has also observed that mere failure of a corporate entity to meet its contractual obligations is no ground for piercing the corporate veil.

In the instant case, a sum of $664,070, along with pre award and future interest at the rate of 12% per annum, was awarded by the arbitral tribunal in favour of IGNOU against Sudhir Gopi and UEIT jointly and severally.

This award was assailed before the high court contending that UEIT is a limited liability company and although Sudhir Gopi is the principal shareholder as well as the chairman and managing director of UEIT, he is not personally liable for the contractual liability of UEIT.

“An arbitral tribunal has no jurisdiction to lift the corporate veil; its jurisdiction is confined by the arbitration agreement – which includes the parties to arbitration – and it would not be permissible for the arbitral tribunal to expand or extend the same to other persons, ” the court said.

Setting aside the tribunal order, the court observed that only in cases where it is established that an individual(s) and/or other entities have used a corporate form for a wrongful purpose, to perpetuate a fraud, circumvent a statute or some other misdeeds, the courts can decide to ignore the corporate personality and hold the directors, shareholders and/or officers (alter egos) responsible for the obligations of the corporate entity.

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