The New Delhi Arbitration Centre Bill – An Attempt To Make India An Institutional Arbitration Hub
After the opening the gates of the Indian market to the world by the LPG move in 1991, to attract the confidence of International Mercantile community and the growing volume of India's trade and commercial relationship with the rest of the world, Indian Parliament was persuaded to enact the Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996 in UNCITRAL model.
Globalization has increased cross border transactions which involves parties of different nationalities. The conflict settlement provision is important for cross-border contracts. Business magnates and companies are abstaining from the waste of time and energy in litigation in competitive global markets where time is a currency. Companies prefer arbitration to conventional dispute resolution mechanisms because of its speed, reliability, and versatility. Nowadays, international arbitration is well known as the dispute resolution mechanism choice for cross-border transactions and foreign direct investment disputes. Singapore, Hong Kong, London, and Paris have emerged as the world's leading arbitration destinations.
With an ambitious vision to establish India as an eminent arbitration hub, the government has passed the New Delhi International Arbitration Centre Bill, 2019. With this initiation of development of institutional arbitration hubs, the government looks forward to developing arbitration centers in other metropolitan cities of the country. The concomitant effect, this legislation wants to ensue, is the reduction of the burden of cases on the judiciary and promotion of both domestic and international arbitration in the country.
With respect to Ease of Doing Business, India has shown tremendous performance by making a giant leap from the 142nd position in 2014, to 77th position in 2018. This ranking is an outcome of the progress of the country in various other criterions such as property registration, construction permits, electricity and credit availability, and contract enforcement. The country has a poor status in contract enforcement (163rd position) due to an overburdened judiciary, inchoate ADR institutional mechanisms, and therefore wastage of time and effort in dispute resolutions.
The Bill takes into account recommendations from the High-Level Committee headed by Justice B.N. Srikrishna, who had proposed that the government should take over and establish the International Center for Alternative Conflict Resolution as an institution of National Significance. The bill acquires and moves International Center for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR) undertakings to the International Arbitration Centre, New Delhi. ICADR is a registered society that promotes conflict resolution through alternative methods of dispute resolution such as arbitration and mediation.
Promotion of studies, providing instruction and arrangement of conferences and workshops on alternative conflict resolution concerns, providing arbitration, mediation, and conciliation services and administrative assistance, and maintaining a panel of qualified practitioners to perform arbitration, mediation and conciliation are some of the prime objectives of the center.
The NDIAC's main role is to promote professional, timely, and cost-effective operation of arbitration and conciliation. The NDIAC would be expected to sustain a fund that will be paid from central government grants, fees received for its operations, and other sources. The accounts are audited and accredited by India's Comptroller and Auditor General. The bill is equipped with provisions for institutional support that permit NDIAC to establish a permanent panel of arbitrators. In addition, it may also create an Arbitration Academy for training arbitrators and conducting Alternative Conflict Resolution studies.
The bill is well-planned and is a product of the cutting-edge expertise of the Law Ministry and the committee recommendations. The enactment of the bill will be done with the legislative intent of the realization of the following benefits:
- It can result in a paradigm shift from the current perception of delay in resolution of commercial disputes in India, to, it being viewed as an investor-friendly destination.
- It will not only lessen the burden on the judiciary but also will give a fillip to the developmental agenda of the country.
- Will also aid the financial strength of the country and serve the goal of the welfare of the citizens.