The Unfolding of Arbitration Regime: An Indian Perspective
Mr. Muneeb Rashid Malik
Volume III, Issue II, 2020
The legislation which deals with Arbitration in India is the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, which has been amended by the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 and the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2019. The laws which governed arbitration in India before the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 were the Arbitration (Protocol and Convention) Act, 1937, the Indian Arbitration Act, 1940, and the Foreign Awards (Recognition and Enforcement) Act, 1961. The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, has brought a watershed to streamline the Indian Arbitration Law and to permeate it with unrivalled global modus operandi. For the last ten years, a chain of judicial pronouncements and a number of amendments, have given a whirl to metamorphose our country into a robust hub for international as well as domestic arbitration. Our country has observed some productive legal reforms in the landscape of arbitration in the recent years. The amendments have tried to orient the arbitration regime of India with the significant arbitration regimes of other realms. Our country’s future as far as arbitration is concerned depends upon a number of factors, which include availability of arbitrators possessing profuse competence, quality, integrity and independence. Our country has been blessed with a great number of legal leading lights who can deal with labyrinthine matters concerned with arbitration, therefore, proper training and orientation will help us to produce masterly arbitrators which will prove substantial for the further development of the arbitration mechanism as far as India is concerned. The matters which are submitted to arbitration are usually numerous and diverse in nature, hence, it is in the fitness of things to have a bar which is specialised in arbitration and has not relocated from the conventional bar so that it can work effectively with the arbitral institutions in order to strengthen institutional arbitration in India which is yet not so popular in our country. Institutional arbitration has not been able to spread its wings in our country because the parties still prefer adhoc arbitration. The report by the High-Level Committee to Review the Institutionalisation of Arbitration Mechanism in India, constituted on 13th January, 2017, headed by Justice B.N. Srikrishna, Retired Judge, Supreme Court of India, had identified a number of factors for the limited success of institutional arbitration in India which are – lack of credible arbitral institutions, misconceptions relating to institutional arbitration, lack of governmental support for institutional arbitration, lack of legislative support for institutional arbitration, and judicial attitudes towards arbitration in general. Therefore, institutional arbitration in our country needs to propelled and evolved so that our country becomes a global hub of arbitration.