Arbitration and Conciliation (amendment)Act 2015
Key Provisions of Bill
• Mandatory for arbitrators to settle disputes within 12 months. This period can be extended by 6 months only by a court on sufficient cause.
• Cut the fees of arbitrators if the court finds that the delay has been caused due to arbitrators.
• Rewarding arbitrators with extra fees in case the matter is disposed of within 6 months and the parties agree to pay more.
• Empower arbitration tribunals to grant all kinds of interim measures that courts provide.
• Thus giving more teeth to them in order to make tribunals directives enforceable in the same manner as those of courts.
The Amendment Act has introduced some major changes in the principal Act. A brief summary of the following key amendments for quick reference:
• Amendment to definition of the term ‘Court’ in Section 2(e): Definition of the term ‘Court’ is amended to provide that certain provisions of Part I of the Act such as interim relief (section 9), court assistance in taking evidence (section 27) and appeal to interim relief order under section 9 (section 37) shall also apply to International Commercial Arbitration, even if the place of arbitration is outside India, subject to an agreement to the contrary between the parties to the dispute. In case of International Commercial Arbitration, the High Court shall be the ‘court’ for reliefs under the Act.
• Amendment to Section 7: An Arbitration agreement contained in the form of communication through electronic means shall also be treated as an arbitration agreement in writing
• Amendment to Section 8: Unless the judicial authority finds that prima facie no valid arbitration agreement exists, said judicial authority shall refer to the parties to the Arbitration on the action brought by party to arbitration agreement or person claiming through or under him. If the party applying for reference to arbitration has not having original or certified copy of arbitration agreement between them but the said copy is retained by other party then such party can make application to the Court to call upon other party to produce original or certified true of the arbitration agreement before that court.
• Amendment to Section 9: Where the Court passes an order for any interim measure under sub-section (1) of Section 9 before the commencement of arbitral proceedings, the arbitral proceedings shall be commenced within a period of ninety days from the date of such order. It further provides that once the arbitral tribunal is constituted, the Court shall not entertain an application for interim measure unless it finds circumstances that may render the remedy provided under section 17 inefficacious
• Amendment to Section 11: Appointment of arbitrator shall now be made by the Supreme Court or the High Court, as the case may be, instead of the Chief Justice of India or the Chief Justice of the High Court. An application for appointment of arbitrator(s) shall be disposed of as expeditiously as possible and an endeavor shall be made to dispose of the matter within a period of sixty days from the date of service of notice on the opposite party. The High Court is empowered to frame rules for the purpose of determination of fees of the arbitral tribunal and the manner of such payment. The High Court while framing rules shall take into account the rates of fee specified in the Fourth Schedule to the Act.
• Amendment to Section 12: Ensuring neutrality of arbitrators, when a person is approached in connection with the possible appointment as arbitrator, he is required to disclose in the writing the existence of any relationship or interest of any kind which is likely to give rise to justifiable doubts as to his neutrality. He is also required to disclose any circumstances which are likely to affect his ability to devote sufficient time to the arbitration and complete the arbitration within the specified period. A person having relationships as specified in the Seventh Schedule shall be ineligible to be appointed as an arbitrator; For example: The arbitrator is an employee, consultant, advisor or has any other past or present business relationship with a party to the dispute; or the arbitrator is a manager, director or part of the management, or has a similar controlling influence over the parties to the dispute.
• Amendment to Section 14: