Govt Sets Up Panel Led by Former Law Secretary T K Viswanathan to Recommend Reforms in Arbitration Law

LI Network

Published on: 20 June 2023 at 12:07 IST

Department of Legal Affairs of Indian government, has taken a significant step towards improving the arbitration process by forming an expert committee. Led by former law secretary T K Viswanathan, the committee aims to recommend reforms to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996.

The Department of Legal Affairs in the Union law ministry has established an expert committee consisting of various members, including Additional Solicitor General N Venkataraman, senior advocates, representatives from private law firms, and officials from different departments and organizations.

The committee’s primary objective is to conduct a thorough examination of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, assessing its strengths, weaknesses, and challenges in comparison to international jurisdictions. Based on this assessment, the committee will propose amendments and make recommendations to improve the functioning of the Act.

The committee aims to propose solutions that limit the need for judicial intervention in arbitration cases, making the process more party-driven and efficient. It also seeks to expedite the finality of arbitral awards by suggesting modifications to provisions related to setting aside awards and appeals, ensuring swift enforcement.

Creating a competitive environment in the arbitration services market is another focus area. The committee will recommend a framework for a model arbitration system that encourages healthy competition and attracts both domestic and international parties to choose India as their preferred arbitration destination.

To minimize reliance on judicial authorities and courts, the committee will establish an administrative mechanism and standard operating procedures, particularly for routine challenges involving government-related arbitral awards. This will streamline the process and provide a more efficient means of dispute resolution.

The committee will address cost determination and fee structures by recommending principles for calculating arbitration costs and arbitrators’ fees, ensuring transparency and fairness. A charter of duties will also be developed to guide the conduct of all parties involved in arbitration proceedings.

Considering the unique requirements of domestic and international arbitration, the committee will evaluate the feasibility of enacting separate laws for each category. This will provide a robust legal framework tailored to the specific needs of both types of arbitration. Additionally, the committee will propose model arbitration agreements and awards for adoption by parties and arbitrators.

Simplifying arbitration legislation and standardizing functions is another goal. The committee will explore the need for new legislation written in simple language and develop a handbook for arbitrators to provide comprehensive guidance, enhancing professionalism and consistency in arbitration proceedings.

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