Vikas Mahendra and Kaustav Saha
The Arbitration and Conciliation Amendment Bill, 2018 seeks to make a number of significant changes to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.
The Bill has been introduced following the recommendations of a High-Level Committee constituted by the Central Government under the Chairmanship of Justice (Retd.) B. N. Srikrishna. The mandate of the Committee was, inter alia, to examine measures to strengthen arbitral institutions in India and suggest ways to improve the efficiency of the arbitral framework in India.
The overall intent of the Bill is laudable, but the Bill itself has a generous mix of the good, the bad and the ugly.
Several provisions depart from the recommendations of the Committee and if accepted, would mark a regressive step in the goal to make India a global arbitration hub.
A number of suggested areas of reform have also remained unaddressed. Some key issues with the Bill are discussed below:
As the Bill is pending consideration, it is hoped that some of the above drawbacks and ambiguities that plague the Bill in its current form will be resolved, and an effort made to harmonise the proposed amendments with the broader objectives of making India more arbitration-friendly and making the institutional arbitration framework more robust.