Recent Amendments In The Arbitration Act

This article is an attempt at understanding the efforts made by the Government of India to provide dispute resolution mechanism in India as well as improve the ease of doing business in India. The Arbitration and Conciliation Amendment Bill, 2018 to further amend the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 Act was approved on 7 March 2018 by Cabinet of Ministers for introduction in ongoing session of the Parliament. These amendments in the Act were declared as an important effort by the Government of India to encourage institutional arbitration in India and further streamline the arbitration process by removing practical difficulties in applicability of the first round of amendments made by the Arbitration and Conciliation Amendment Act, 2015. The Bill draws out the suggestions made by the High-Level Committee (HLC) appointed by the government of India under the Chairmanship of Justice Mr. Srikrishna of the Supreme Court of India. The HLC had ‘inter alia recommended that International Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution should be taken over with complete refurbish of it’s governance structure and be upgrade as a centre of national importance to call attention to it’s character as a flagship arbitral institution. In view of the above recommendations, New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2018 was introduced in the Parliament on 5 January 2018.

The brief of the important amendments of the act are as follows:

1. Section 11 of the Act, gives the authority to the High Court and Supreme Court to appoint arbitrators in Adhoc-Arbitration matters.

2. Changes to the timeline have been made available under S.29A which proposes to calculate the timeline from the date of the completion of the pleadings. Hence, the amending act provides 6 months time for completion of pleadings and 12 months time for the formal declaration of the award in domestic arbitration. Also, it keeps the mandate extended till the application filed before the court is disposed of, after the said 18 months.

3. A party can proceed towards the arbitrator any time during the proceedings or at any time after making the award till it is enforced thereby reducing the scope of Section 17.

4. Section 42A has made certain of the confidentiality of the arbitration proceedings except for reward.

5. This Act marks the creation of a statutory body ‘Arbitration Council of India(ACI)’ which will grade arbitral institutions and give credit to arbitrators by laying down norms and take responsibility of all the steps for the encouragement of arbitration and other ADR mechanisms in India.

6. A new Section 87 has been put forward to make it clear that the 2015 amendments will apply to arbitrations which were introduced after October 2015 or if parties clearly adopt the same.

7. The amending Act has suggested to assimilate the ‘Eight Schedule’ to the 1996 Act, which lays down a list of qualifications necessary to be an arbitrator.

The amendment brought in by the Government of India is a step towards the right direction. The sole purpose of Arbitration was being prevented from achieving it’s aim due to delays and expenses. Questions were being raised as to why one should put forward to Arbitration, which could, because of delays, become a prolonged and exorbitant affair. With the above-highlighted amendments, there is a forethought to impose a curb on delays and hasten proceedings so that the final award is passed within the period provided under the Act.

This Article Is Authored By Eshneet Raheja, Student of B.A. (Hons.), Amity University, Noida

Also Read – Two Tier Arbitration in India: Good or Not !!

Law Corner

Leave a Comment