Bill offers new lease of life for arbitration in India

By Vivek Vashi and Shreya Ramesh, Bharucha & Partners
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On 26 August, India’s cabinet announced it had approved the Arbitration and Conciliation Bill, 2015, which appears to reflect suggestions and amendments proposed by the Law Commission in its reports of August 2014 and February 2015.

Vivek Vashi
Vivek Vashi

The bill proposes some radical measures to tackle problems such as inordinate delays in hearings, incessant adjournments, mounting costs and fees and, in some measure, conflicting lines of authorities. The numerous amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, suggested by the Law Commission and subject to parliamentary approval, could go a long way to rejuvenate the arbitral process in India.

The arbitral tribunal: Proposed amendments to various sections (such as 11, 12 and 14) envisage disclosure by arbitrators of all circumstances and relations that give rise to justifiable doubts as to their independence or impartiality. For clarity, schedules which set out grounds that give rise to justifiable doubts are to be annexed to the act. The disclosures to be made by arbitrators address core concerns, such as the availability of arbitrators, their experience and relations with the parties. While it remains to be seen whether parliament will pass such provisions into law, this signals a progressive and encouraging trend in Indian arbitration.

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Vivek Vashi is the mainstay of the litigation team at Bharucha & Partners, where Shreya Ramesh is an associate.

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