APPLEBY DOCUMENTS show that Ultrapetrol SA, a service provider to Jindal Steel and Power Limited (JSPL) in Bolivia, obtained an arbitral award in London in 2015 against Jindal Steel and Power Ltd Mauritius (JSPLM), a 100 per cent subsidiary of JSPL, related to dues of approximately $2 million.
In March 2015, Ultrapetrol SA, registered in Argentina, approached Appleby for advice on enforcing a London arbitral award against JSPLM Ltd. Documents show the arbitration was for payment due to Ultrapetrol for the work it did as a contractor engaged by JSPLM for its business in Bolivia.
Ultrapetrol had asked Appleby on the avenues available to enforce of the arbitral award against the assets of Jindal outside Mauritius. It further asked for the procedures that needed to be followed for winding up of Jindal in the event the arbitral award remains unsatisfied.
Appleby suggested that since Mauritius is a signatory to the Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards (New York Convention), a ruling by a foreign tribunal against a local company may be recognised and enforced by the Supreme Court of Mauritius.
It further said that while the court may exercise its discretion to turn down the enforcement of an arbitral award at the request of the party against whom it is invoked. But, it pointed out, the UK is a party to the New York Convention and that an arbitral award obtained in London was capable of being recognised and enforced in courts there.
However, Appleby noted, the winding-up procedures of a Mauritian company were governed under the Insolvency Act 2009. Therefore, a liquidator appointed pursuant to the Act will not be able to take control of assets of Jindal outside the jurisdiction of Mauritius, Appleby said.
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Later in 2015, a report by MinterEllison, a legal and consulting firm based in Australia, said that a Federal Court of Australia, where Jindal has business interests, has ordered that the foreign arbitral award against JSPLM be enforced and that “the non-appearance formed the basis for an order by default”.
Jindal Steel and Power responds: The matter pertains to JSPL’s Bolivia project, where UltraPetrol SA was engaged as a contractor for regular course of operations. In 2012, the company had to withdraw from Bolivia project. All matters between subsidiaries of JSPL and UltraPetrol SA stand amicably resolved and settled.