Alternate Dispute Resolution is quite literally the alternate means of receiving justice without getting involved in the hassle of court procedures and delays. This speedy and out-of-court settlement system has its system surrounding the convenience of the parties of an ADR case and the Tribunal. It is no surprise that this field of law has also seen many changes regarding the procedures and flexibility ever since the onset of the COVID 19 Pandemic in 2020.
Pre-Pandemic Functioning of the ADR Procedures in India
The regular functioning of ADR cases involved a time stipulation of a total of 18 months under Section 29A of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 2015, whereby the award was mandated to be passed within a limit of 12 months and could further be extended by six months if wished by the parties. Similarly, Section 29B is the gatekeeper for fast-track procedures in ADR disputes. Section 19 of the Act permitted the Arbitral Tribunal to allow the proceedings of a case in a manner that is deemed appropriate.
These particular provisions are relevant to the subject matter as they have undergone the most notable changes since the onset of the pandemic.
Post-Pandemic Functioning of the ADR Procedures in India.
COVID 19 has been the driving force for the temporary amendments that have taken place in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 2015. While the overall effect of this pandemic has been devastating, the impact, particularly on the ADR field, has been primarily positive.
- The Supreme Court of India has waived the limitation on the period for giving the arbitral award for a temporary period to reduce the burden on the courts and employees, which alludes to the fact that Section 29A and B have been relaxed.
- The Delhi International Arbitration Centre has also announced that following the provision of Section 19 of the A&C Act, 2015, the process of conducting proceedings and filing petitions utilizing technology such as emails and video calls has been deemed to be appropriate, given the fact that physical proceedings have not been possible due to the various lockdowns in the country.
- Virtual means and relaxation on time limitations have seemed to decrease the pre-existing burden on the courtrooms and the tribunals, which has helped the efficiency of ongoing cases and the overall efficacy of speedy disposal of issues which is a crucial feature of ADR.
While only those international commercial arbitral disputes were given the time flexibility due to suspension of Section 29, which were entered post 30th August 2019, the overall amendment and response to the pandemic situation seen in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 2015 has been commendable, more so because while it lessens the fixation of time limits, it also encourages people to stay within those prescribed limits to reduce the possibility of further delays in procedures. Online Dispute Resolution is now synonymous with Alternate Dispute Resolution, and the same has only been possible in light of COVID 19.
These steps taken by the Supreme Court and joint efforts of the arbitration bar and centers are commendable and have eased the process tremendously.
This Article Does Not Intend To Hurt The Sentiments Of Any Individual Community, Sect, Or Religion Etcetera. This Article Is Based Purely On The Authors Personal Views And Opinions In The Exercise Of The Fundamental Right Guaranteed Under Article 19(1)(A) And Other Related Laws Being Force In India, For The Time Being. Further, despite all efforts made to ensure the accuracy and correctness of the information published, White Code VIA Mediation and Arbitration Centre shall not be responsible for any errors caused due to human error or otherwise.