The Calcutta High Court has in a significant judgment delivered on 25 September 2012 held that the arbitration clause embedded in software of the Indian Readership Survey, which is part of the terms and conditions a user must accept before accessing data, is binding.
Disposing of a petition filed by ABP and vacating an injunction earlier granted by the Court, Justice Nadira Patherya referred the dispute relating to IRS 2008 to arbitration.
Responding to ABP’s petition challenging IRS findings, MRUC had contended that the dispute had to be referred to arbitration, as this clause was a part of the terms accepted by users. This was contested by ABP.
The High Court held, “The issue sought to be raised by the plaintiff in C.S. No.242 of 2008 is covered by the arbitration agreement as the same has been couched in the widest term and encompasses the issue raised, and the same be referred to arbitration”.
MRUC is a body constituted of media research users by media research users for media research users. It succeeds only when it advances the interests of its diverse stakeholders in the communications industries. MRUC recognises that there will be situations in which users may disagree with some aspect of the conduct of various researches that it conducts. It is precisely to handle such disputes in a spirit of collaborative resolution that MRUC places so much emphasis on arbitration.
For reference, the arbitration clause according to IRS is:
• All differences and disputes of whatsoever nature, arising between the parties including those that are in connection with, concerned with or relative to any aspect of the IRS Report inclusive of this Agreement between the parties and also any dispute or difference in regard to the interpretation of any provision or term or the meaning thereof, whether during the currency/sustenance of this Agreement or after the determination thereof, including any dispute, difference or controversy in regard to the interpretation / meaning / application of this clause, shall be referred to arbitration by sole arbitrator to be nominated by the MRUC Board of Governors and the said arbitration shall be governed by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996. The place of arbitration shall be Mumbai only.
• In all cases where “Court” has jurisdiction to entertain, try and dispose of matters governed by and/arising under or taken under any provision of the said Act, the party/ies (MRUC, Hansa Research and/or the user/s concerned) shall take such proceedings in an appropriate Court in Mumbai alone to the exclusion of all other Courts in the rest of India.
• All disputes, differences and controversies between the parties, if any, not covered under Clauses XII.1 & XII.2 hereinabove shall be filed in and settled exclusively by the Courts in Mumbai alone.