What are the key features of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018?

The Union Cabinet has approved the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018 for introduction in the Parliament. It is a part of the efforts of the Government to encourage institutional arbitration for settlement of disputes and make India a centre for robust Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism.
The bill will amend the arbitration and conciliation amendment act 1996 for achieving the goal of improving institutional arbitration by establishing an independent body to lay down standards, make arbitration process more party friendly, cost effective and ensure timely disposal of arbitration cases.
The features of the bill include: 

  • To facilitate speedy appointment of arbitrators through designated arbitral institutions by the Supreme Court or the High Court, without having any requirement to approach the court in this regard. So that the parties may directly approach arbitral institutions designated by the Supreme Court for International Commercial arbitration and in other cases the concerned High Courts.
  • Creation of an independent body namely the Arbitration Council of India (ACI) which will grade arbitral institution and accredit arbitrators by laying down norms and take all such steps as may be necessary to promote and encourage arbitration, conciliation, mediation and other ADR Mechanism.
  • The Chairperson of ACI shall be a person who has been a Judge of the Supreme Court or Chief Justice or Judge of any High Court or any eminent person. Further, the other Members would include an eminent academician etc. besides other Government nominees.
  • Excludes International Arbitration from the bounds of timeline and provides that the time limit for arbitral award in other arbitrations shall be within 12 months from the completion of the pleadings of the parties.
  • Provides that the arbitrator and the arbitral institutions shall keep confidentiality of all arbitral proceedings except award.
  • Protects an Arbitrator from suit or other legal proceedings for any action or omission done in good faith in the course of arbitration proceedings.

The proposed amendments are based on the recommendations of the High Level Committee (HLC) under the Chairmanship of Justice B. H. Srikrishna formed for suggesting the steps need to be taken for addressing of the practical difficulties in applicability of the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act.


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