There are three enactments in India for the law of arbitration namely, the Arbitration Act, 1940, The Arbitration (Protocol and Convention) Act, 1935, and The Foreign Awards (Recognition and Enforcement) Act, 1961. But these laws have become outdated and the legislation had introduced a bill seeking to consolidate and amend the law relating to domestic arbitration, international commercial arbitration, and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards and to define the law relating to conciliation; everything to bring a much-needed aspirational change to make India an arbitration hub among other countries.
They have made efforts to encourage international trade and make New Delhi the center of international arbitration centers. Several amendments were brought in the Arbitration & Conciliation Act as to the establishment of Arbitration Council of India, the completion of written claim and defense to the claim in arbitration proceedings within six months of the appointment of the arbitrators, confidentiality of proceedings, exclusion of international arbitration from the mandate of Section 29A, etc.
The Indian law brought amends not just to make India an international hub for arbitration across the globe but to speed up the resolution of commercial disputes and be cost-effective with as much less intervention of the court as possible. A high-level committee has been set up by the central government and on its recommendation, the central government had introduced the Arbitration & Conciliation (Amendment) Bill 2018 in the Lok Sabha on 18th July 2018. Unfortunately, the Bill got lapsed and the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed and the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2019 came into force on 9th August 2019 which contains provisions dealing with Domestic and International Arbitration and defines the law for conducting conciliation proceedings.
Recent arbitration has helped a lot in regard to taking some burden from the judicial system which has a huge backlog of cases pending, and cases that take time to come to a decision. The judicial system is coming up with numerous judgments with a constant focus to save both times and cost in arbitration. Apart from taking lesser time in resolving disputes and being cost-effective, arbitration is also trending in discouraging the filing of insubstantial applications that challenges the arbitral awards, encouraging institutional arbitration, lessening court intervention at both pre-arbitration and post-arbitration level, etc.
The parties can seek help from the high court to appoint themselves with an arbitrator. They can also free to choose the kind of procedure they would want to resolve their disputes including dates and block dates for trial and hearing. They can choose a specialist to arbitrate in matters which involve technical issues. However, in certain cases, arbitration requires court intervention which again burdens the judicial system with the already present backlogged cases and sometimes the hearing takes place after the court hours, and it is very tiring cause it can go on for days.
The Indian judicial system is trying a lot to make India an international arbitration hub. The law alone can’t help improve and encourage the establishment of an arbitration institution, even parties, and entities involved need to be more professional and efficient. Parties are unwilling to appoint arbitrators outside the pool of retired judges and advocates. It’s almost like an extension of the court system with very slow growth and establishment of a separate body of arbitration.