The Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996 is a significant leap forward in the field of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) mechanism. The act provides for a speedy and friendly resolution of disputes which is very much needed taking into consideration the delays and expense in the process of court litigation. Earlier there were different laws relating to arbitration, and the 1996 act is a consolidated version of all such laws.
Following are some of the key features of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996
- The 1996 Arbitration and Conciliation Act provide the procedure not only for domestic arbitration but also include International commercial arbitration. The 1996 Act is a law that relate to the enforcement of foreign Arbitration awards and ensures for a greater autonomy in the process of arbitration and puts a limit on the intervention of the judiciary.
- As the name suggests (Arbitration and Conciliation Act), the Act deals with two areas or type of proceedings i.e. Arbitration proceedings and conciliation proceedings. There is a clear difference that is maintained in the 1996 Act between the proceedings of Arbitration and Conciliation. The provisions that relate to the process of Arbitration are contained in Part I which includes Chapters I to IX, while the provisions that relate to the process of Conciliation are dealt in Part III that includes section 61 to 81.
- The Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996 integrates the Arbitration Act of 1940, the Arbitration (Protocol and Convention ) Act,1937 and the foreign Awards Act , 1961.
The 1996 Act consolidates and puts together all the three different enactments. Though the three Acts have been consolidated the provisions regarding each of the acts have been kept distinct within the 1996 Act.
- The 1996 Act excludes the application of the provisions relating to section 5 of the limitation Act regarding the delay in filing the objections.
- The 1996 Arbitration and conciliation Act introduced some changes of which the following are worth taking note. (i) Resolution of the dispute in an impartial, fair and just manner without any delay or big expenses.
(ii)Autonomy of the party is the paramount consideration.
(iii) The Arbitral tribunal has a duty to act fairly.
- An important element of the new Arbitration Act of 1996, following the UNCITRAL Model Law and in step with other modern arbitration laws is the principle of 'party autonomy' that runs through the entire fabric of the Act. The concept of party autonomy makes the central theme of the 1996 Arbitration Act. The expressions used in the Act - 'unless otherwise agreed by the parties', 'with the agreement of parties', `if the parties in dispute have expressly authorized' etc., strengthens the idea of party autonomy.
- Another significant feature of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996 is that the intervention of the court in the proceedings has been minimised
- The Arbitration Act of 1996 does not prescribe any time-bound procedure for making of an arbitral award.
- The Arbitration Act of 1996 does not provide for an opportunity for a second appeal. This unique provision reflects the legislature’s intention that they wish to have a speedy process so that there is no waste of time.
The Arbitration and Conciliation Act takes into consideration all the essential ingredients necessary foe providing an easy and unambiguous procedure for dispute resolution.