Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996 is the most important leap forward in the promotion of the ADR mechanisms. The Act provides for provisions relating to procedure to be followed in dispute resolution by modes alternative to conventional courtroom litigation.
The Salient features of 2015 amendment Act are as follows:
- The term Court that was defined in section 2 of the Act was amended and it only refers to High Court in case related to International Commercial Arbitration.
- The provisions that related to grant of interim relief (Sec. 9), assistance by court in taking evidence (Sec. 27) and provisions relating to Appeals (specifically, clause (a) of sub-section (1) and sub-section (3) of Section 37) would now be applicable in matters relating to cases of international commercial arbitrations also.
- The provisions that related to setting aside of the arbitration awards on the ground that it was against the public policy has been amended to include
(i) in contradiction with the policies related to fundamental to the Indian law.
(ii) in contravention with the general principle of justice and morality in addition to the other grounds that are already mentioned in the statute.
- The amendment of 2015 imposed a time limit in a strict sense for concluding the process of arbitration. The time period was fixed at 12 months which could be extended for an extra time period of 6 months for which the arbitration tribunal will take extra fees for the purpose. The deduction in fees of the tribunal for the delay would be at a rate of five percent for each month of delay.
- The parties who choose arbitration for dispute resolution also have the option of proceeding in a fast track manner in which the matter is to be concluded within 6 months.
- The amendment provided that the matters relating to challenges to the arbitral award to be dealt with within a period of 1 year.
- New provision relating to cost regime was introduced by section 31A of the Act of 2015 ,according to which the court or the arbitral tribunal could determine costs on principals of the party that lost and may make different order while recording reasons for doing so in writing.
- Section 36 in the 1996 Act has been amended and a new Section 36 has been inserted by which if time to make an application for setting aside arbitrational award has passed , then such award would be enforced taking in considerations the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908, in a manner as if it was a decree of the court.
Therefore there were progressive changes brought about by the 2015 amendment though some of these provisions were further amended by the 2019 amendment.