Critically examine the key features and provisions of Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 towards improving India's dispute resolution mechanism and making India a Hub of Arbitration.

Published: September 24, 2017

The key features of the act are as follows:

  • Now the arbitration agreement contained in form of communication through electronic means shall also be treated as an arbitration agreement in writing.
  • Appointment of arbitrators shall be made by the Supreme Court or High Courts, as the case may be instead of the Chief Justice of India or Chief Justice of High Court.
  • In case of international arbitration, the relevant court would only be the High Court having original ordinary jurisdiction
  • To ensure neutrality of arbitrators, when a person is approached in connection with possible appointment as arbitrator, he is required to disclose in writing, the existence of any relationship or interest of any kind.
  • Now the arbitration tribunal shall have power to grant all kinds of interim measures which the court is empowered to grant.
  • The amendment introduces a provision that requires an arbitration tribunal to make its award within 12 months. This may be extended by a 6 months period.
  • The amendment further permits parties to choose to conduct arbitration proceedings in a fast track manner. The award would be granted within 6 months.

The amendment of the arbitration and conciliation act, 1996 has facilitated in clearing the major lacunae caused by the landmark Supreme Court judgment in the case of BALCO (supra) wherein there was a bar on Indian courts from granting interim relief and assist in collecting evidence in the case of international commercial arbitrations. This glitch has now been resolved with the applicability of section 9 and section 27 to international commercial arbitrations as well. With the amendment of the definition of “courts” to refer only to a High Court in the case of an international commercial arbitration, parties to an international commercial arbitration will not have to approach lower courts to look for relief. By the enactment of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 the government seeks to expedite the arbitral process and help the government to achieve its goal of making India a seat for international commercial arbitration like the other major business and financial districts of the world. The Act of 2015 will also help in regaining the lost confidence of the foreign investors in the Indian judicial and arbitral system.

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