The COVID -19 pandemic has brought a lot of uncertainty to the entire working of the country be it like government sector business, educational institutions including judicial work ( except matters of extreme emergency ) many areas of our lives. The catastrophe ramification resulting from the virus made the prime minister declare complete lockdown of the country. The court system has undertaken a palpable effort to quickly react and adapt to what now what seemed in a state of transition, and could transform the legal norm into a new one. Every turning point in the history has brought institutional reform, and most of the time for the better . Interesting, the world of arbitration is quickly adapting to COVID – 19, this is because arbitration adapts to its user needs, allowing for flexible options, and remaining open to creative solutions. Courts are currently gasping for fresh air in to ensure that the legal system upholds one of our most fundamental rights, access to justice.
Though impossibility of performance is different arena governed by section – 56 of the contract act, 1872 but surely the same would also definitely impact the timelines within which the arbitral proceeding are to be completed by making the arbitral award.
HOW COVID – 19 AFFECT THE ARBITRATION?
Because of COVID -19 pandemic, the supreme court "sua sponte" took up the issue of extension of limitation vide order dated 23-03-2020 directing as under on the account of COVID -19 VIRUS and difficulties faced by litigants it is hereby ordered that a period of limitation in all such proceeding, irrespective of the limitation prescribed under the general law or special laws whether condonable or shall extended till further order passed. The apex court re-staring the period of limitation must be excluded for section 29-A and 29 –B of the arbitration and conciliation act, 1996 as well.No, doubt discussion regarding online dispute resolution, have initiated all over the world in this difficult time of lockdown, and there are avenues of video conferencing / teleconferencing already available which is being resorted, therefore till the online system for conducting the arbitration evolved and adopted by all concerned, an order of suspension of arbitration proceeding akin to an order passed by the supreme court is required to be passed by the respective arbitrators.
As long as the COVID -19 lockdown prevents the regular conduct of arbitral final hearings, participation in, virtual hearings, non – traditional must be closely considered, and if certain conditions are met implemented to outweigh the costly disadvantages of postponement. And the time limit should be increased for the arbitral award. However, indeed in the post corona period, the burden of pending cases will be increased upon the courts, in a situation like this where many urgent and serious issues are yet to be addressed the further time limit should be made flexible by the judiciary. After acknowledging the current pandemic circumstances around the globe.