Male/New Delhi: Four months after Maldives terminated the contract given to Indian infrastructure major GMR to develop and operate the international airport in Male, the two sides will sit down next month in London to begin the multi-million dollar arbitration process.
The preliminary hearing that will structure the arbitration process over the abrupt termination of the 25 year contract with GMR Group for the development of Ibrahim Nasir International Airport (INIA) by the Maldives government has been slated for April 10.
"It is the initial meeting of the arbitration process," Sidharth Kapur, Chief Financial Officer of GMR Group told a news agency in New Delhi.
"We will sit down and talk. The GMR has not given us any figure as yet. Forensic audit is still going on," Maldives' President Mohamed Waheed's Press Secretary Masood Imad told PTI in Male.
In addition to the three arbitrators, government and Maldives Airports Company Limited (MACL) lawyers along with representatives of GMR will participate in the sit-down.
"It's not a hearing to argue the case. The hearing will only decide a date to start arbitration proceedings and its structure. Things that need to be decided before the proceedings begin will be discussed during that hearing," Maldives' Deputy Solicitor General of the Attorney General's Office Ahmed Ushaamhe said.
Singapore National University Professor M Sonaraja will represent the Maldives government while GMR's arbitrator is former Chief Justice of UK Lord Nicholas Edison Phillips, Haveeru news reported.
Retired senior British Judge Lord Leonard Hubert Hoffman is the arbitrator mutually agreed by GMR and the government, the report said.
The arbitration will go on at the Singapore Arbitration Centre as mentioned in the agreement.
GMR had previously stated a figure of USD 800 million as compensation based on their intial estimates. However, company officials said they are yet to come to a final figure.
Sources in the Maldivian government too said GMR has not given a final figure yet.
However, the sources reiterated the Maldivian government's stand that the airport operator agreement with GMR had been annulled on "void ab initio" (invalid from the outset) and that the government does not have to bear any compensation for the termination.