Published on: 09 June 2023 at 12:22 IST
In an event called the “India Disputes Resolution Forum-2nd Edition” held in London, Supreme Court Judge Hima Kohli highlighted the legal advancements in India concerning alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods.
Justice Kohli encouraged the international community to explore the extensive potential of India’s arbitration, mediation, and ADR ecosystem, which uphold principles of justice, fairness, and harmony.
Justice Kohli emphasized India’s approach of “minimal interference” in dealing with arbitral awards, reflecting the country’s evolving legal landscape. She invited individuals to discover India’s vast possibilities in ADR, with the aim of providing timely, fair, and impartial resolutions to conflicts.
The Justice discussed the benefits of arbitration and mediation, which are integral components of ADR, stating that they can alleviate the burden on courts facing a significant caseload. By exploring justice beyond courtrooms, equitable resolutions can be fostered, while simultaneously relieving the strain on overwhelmed courts.
Justice Kohli also drew attention to the lack of diversity, including gender diversity, among international arbitrators. She emphasized the importance of gender-based diversity in arbitrators to promote inclusivity and fairness in dispute resolution, while acknowledging the increase in the number of women arbitrators and mediators in recent years.
Regarding legislative amendments, Justice Kohli highlighted their purpose of addressing new challenges and enhancing effectiveness. The amendments also focus on promoting institutional arbitration, recognizing specialized arbitration institutions, ensuring confidentiality during proceedings, and impartiality in the appointment of arbitrators.
In terms of judicial interference in arbitral proceedings and awards, Justice Kohli stressed the significance of maintaining finality and adopting a pro-enforcement approach. While honoring arbitral awards, the judiciary must also safeguard fairness and equity.
Judicial intervention based on patent illegality or public policy should be an exceptional measure exercised sparingly and cautiously. The Indian judiciary exercises prudence and restraint in interfering with arbitral awards, guided by the principles of minimal interference.
Justice Kohli concluded by stating that the judiciary in India has adapted to the evolving arbitration landscape, responding to the changing needs of the hour. The judiciary continues to refine the boundaries of judicial intervention, keeping interference to a minimum.
Justice Hima Kohli emphasized the immense significance of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) methods in India, highlighting their pivotal role in upholding justice, fairness, and harmony in the nation. She praised India’s strong legal framework, which exemplifies the country’s dedication to these principles and provides robust support for ADR mechanisms.
Justice Kohli stated that by embracing arbitration and mediation laws, along with an active and engaged judiciary, and the institutionalization of ADR practices, India empowers parties with the necessary tools of autonomy, flexibility, and specialized expertise required for effective conflict resolution.
She referenced a report on gender diversity in arbitral appointments and proceedings, noting that although there has been significant improvement in the representation of women arbitrators in recent years, the percentage still remains relatively low. Judge Kohli expressed the need to further promote women in the field of arbitration.
During another function in London addressing the issue of arbitrating Indo-UK commercial disputes, Justice Kohli asserted that India has the potential to establish itself as a leading choice for international arbitration and mediation.
Regarding the recent Bar Council of India rules for the registration and regulation of foreign lawyers and law firms in India, which allow foreign lawyers and firms to practice in specific areas on a reciprocal basis, Judge Kohli viewed this development as an opportunity for young talent to compete with their counterparts in the West. She also emphasized that Indian law firms can learn from the best global practices, and these regulations would help address concerns related to the influx of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) while establishing India as a hub for international commercial arbitration.
In summary, Justice Kohli highlighted the significance of ADR in India, the progress made in gender diversity, and India’s potential to become a prominent destination for international arbitration and mediation. She also praised recent regulations aimed at facilitating the practice of foreign lawyers and firms in India, which would foster competition and the adoption of best practices.