The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Bill, 2019 has been passed by the Parliament after a long push, which seeks to establish India as a commercial hub for International alternative dispute resolution. This Bill shall bring India into the limelight and mark its presence in the International market of commercial dispute resolution with the establishment of a robust mechanism to deal with institutional disputes and ensures accountability of the Arbitrator.

The Bill mandates the establishment of an independent body called Arbitration Council of India (ACI) to promote arbitration, conciliation, mediation and alternative dispute resolution and maintain a uniform professional code in matters of arbitration.

As given under the provisions of Section 43B, The Arbitration Council of India shall have perpetual succession, a common seal, with power, subject to the provisions of this Act, to acquire, hold and dispose of property, both movable and immovable, and to enter into contract, and shall, by the said name, sue or be sued.

The Chairperson of the Council will be appointed by the Central Government in consultation with the Chief Justice of India. Such a person shall be appointed from among the judges of the Supreme Court or the Chief Justice of any of the High Courts or a judge of a High Court or an eminent person, having special knowledge and experience in the conduct or administration of arbitration.

The ACI shall be responsible to frame arbitral institutions and policies to guide and recognize the administration and operation of such professional institutions, accredit and grade Arbitrators and provide for norms to be followed by other institutions in accreditation of Arbitrators, to hold workshops, training, examinations, and other guidelines for aspiring Arbitrators.

The ACI shall also play an important role in advising the Central government in matters of formation of provisions as well as the resolution of commercial disputes. It shall also maintain a depository of all the arbitral awards passed in India for reference purpose.

Since, the burden to appoint an Arbitrator, in case of disputes, lies on the Supreme Court and the High Courts, the Bill now vests the burden on ACI along with the Courts to appoint Arbitrators and also provide for an exhaustive list of Arbitrators. This shall facilitate the parties, in dispute, to select an Arbitrator of their choice making the process of arbitration much fairer. The list will include advocates, chartered accountants, company secretaries, and people with technical and legal knowledge and experience.

The Bill shall speed up the arbitration process making it necessary to complete the process of filing pleas i.e. the statement of claim and defence within six months from the date of notice appointment of the Arbitrator(s) is received. This seeks to curb the wastage of time and skip to the main arbitration proceedings.

The Bill removes restricted time frame for the resolution of International commercial arbitrations and directs the various Tribunals to dispose International arbitral matters within 12 months.

Bill:Arbitration Bill, 2019