Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2018
The Arbitration and Conciliation Bill was passed in Loksabha, it was passed by the ministry of Law dated July 18, 2018, and then passed in Rajya Sabha in the Winter session of the Indian Parliament. The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 plays a significant part as a dispute resolution mechanism and seeks to amend the Act. The Act constitutes to deal with domestic and international arbitration and the law also defines proceedings for Arbitration and Conciliation.
The 2018 Arbitration and Conciliation Bill was passed on the recommendation of the Sri Krishna Committee, constituted by the Government to improve the dispute resolution mechanism in India. It seeks to establish a center for an international Arbitration and modify some of the amendments made under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, and such provision will assist the improvising of dispute resolution mechanisms. The amendment in the 2018 bill had the potential with the required provisions which can alter the function of the dispute mechanism in India.
The key feature of the Bill
Arbitration Council of India (ACI)
The Bill seeks to structure an independent body called the Arbitration Council of India, it aims to promote the dispute resolution mechanism such as arbitration, mediation negotiation, conciliation, and Lok Adalat. The functions include
- Framing policies for the arbitral institutions
- Implementing policies for its establishment and maintenance of uniform professional Standards
Composition of ACI
The ACI constitutes a chairman who is either a judge of the Supreme Court or a judge of High Court or Chief justice of High court or any eminent person who is expertise in the field of arbitration proceedings.
Appointment of Arbitrators:
Under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, parties were free to select the arbitrators. In case of disagreement between the parties regarding the appointment, the parties could approach the Supreme Court or the High Court or any person or institution designated by such Court in order to appoint an arbitrator.
Relaxation of time limits.
Under the 1996 Arbitration Act, Arbitral Tribunals should provide Arbitral Awards within a period of 12 months for all arbitral proceedings. The bill proposed to eliminate the time restriction for international commercial arbitration.
Completion of the written submission
In the present scenario, there is no time limit to file a written submission to the Arbitral Tribunal. The bill proposed the written claim for the arbitral proceedings should be six months.
Confidentiality under the Arbitration Amendment Bill and Right of Information of Law
It is observed that parties feel privacy and confidentiality is the key advantage of arbitration in comparison to litigation. The 2015 Amendment of Arbitration and Conciliation did not introduce the provision for confidentiality. Acknowledging the need for confidentiality, section 9 of Arbitration Bill seeks the introduction of Section 42A of Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.Questions often arise whether privacy and confidentiality are given priority upon the public interest. There have been several instances where arbitral awards have been ordered to be disclosed where the arbitration involved public aut5horities as mentioned under the Right to Information Act, 2005. There has always been a difficulty to balance the two of them.