The Government of India wanted to make the country a center of domestic and
international arbitration by bringing several changes in the existing Act.
In order to implement this, a high-level committee was set up to provide
recommendations and development of arbitration in India. Based on this the
new Act was introduced the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) act,
2019. This Amendment Act has got President's assent on 9 August 2019.
The main objective of this Act is the implementation of an effective
arbitration structure, promote institutional arbitration, and to resolve
some uncertainties resulting from 2015 amendment. it provides several
amendments, crucial ones are discussed in this article.
Some of the remarkable changes in the Amendment Act are as follows:
Arbitration Council of India (ACI):
The Amendment Act, 2019 introduces Part IA (section 43A to section 43M) for
the creation of Arbitration Council of India for the advancement of various
forms of alternative dispute resolution like conciliation, mediation, and
arbitration. The authority of nominating the members of the Arbitration
Council is given in the hands of the Central Government.
The main functions of this council are as follows:
- making guidelines for the establishment, process, and preservation
of uniform professional standards for all alternate dispute redressal
- enclosing policies for grading arbitral institutions and approving
- maintaining the collection of Arbitral Awards and assist the Central
government on matters related to alternative dispute resolution. Hence,
the arbitration council is performing a major role in developing and
encouraging arbitration in India.
Appointment of Arbitrators
prior to amendment parties was allowed to appoint arbitrators with their
mutual agreement and in case of difference in selection, both the parties
had to reach the supreme court in international cases and High Court in
domestic cases. and it took three to six months to complete the whole
process of appointment of arbitrators.
But the amendment act modifies Section 11 and provides that the Supreme
Court of India will designate the arbitral institution for the appointment
of arbitrators (in international commercial arbitration) whereas the High
Court will designate arbitral institutions in case of national arbitrations.
These arbitration institutions must have been graded by the Council.
It is mandatory that these arbitral institutions must complete the process
of selection within thirty days from the acceptance of the request for the
arbitrator's appointment. The determination of arbitrator's fees shall be
done as per the rates specified in the Fourth Schedule of the Act if parties
have not pre-decided any fee schedule for the same. This Schedule is
applicable only in case of domestic arbitration.
Qualification and experience of an Arbitrator
In Amendment Act 2019, a new Eighth Schedule has been inserted which
provides various norms, qualifications, and experiences for endorsement of
arbitrators. There are nine categories specified in this Schedule which also
include Advocates registered under Indian Advocates Act of 1961. It also
introduces some general standards or norms like being a person with the
status of fairness and integrity, unbiased, independent, and most important
without any conflict of interest.
Foreign enrolled lawyers and foreign officers are not eligible as
arbitrators in India.
Timely Conduction of Proceedings
section 29A has been amended by the Amendment Act to modify the timelines
for carrying out the process of arbitration. It introduces some changes
according to which a statement of claims and defense will need to be
completed within six months from the date the arbitrator receives notice of
After completion of proceedings, it is required that arbitration must be
completed within twelve months, therefore, extendable by six more months by
mutual consent of the parties. If arbitration is not finished within
eighteen months from the date of completion of pleadings there is a need to
get the court's approval for the arbitration to continue. this amended
section is compulsory only for arbitration where all parties are Indian.
The amendment also delivers that if during the period of an application for
extension of time for the making of the award is awaiting before the court
the command of the arbitrator shall continue till the disposal of the
The Act provides Section 42A which states that all the details and
particulars of the arbitration proceedings will be kept confidential
excluding facts of the arbitral award in certain situations like if the
disclosure is necessary for the implementation or execution of that arbitral
award. Hence, India joins the list of nations that have confidential
Interim orders by arbitral tribunals
Section 17 of the previous act explains that arbitral tribunals have the
power to pass interim orders at any time from the date of establishment till
the date of implementation of award. But then again the 2019 amendment act
limits the power of the tribunal to pass orders only till the passing of the
Hence, if any party needs an interim protection afterward passing of the
award, It has to reach the suitable court having discretion given under
section 9 of the act. In ordinary language, it is stated that under section
9 an application can be entertained by the courts either before the
formation of the arbitral tribunal or after passing the award.
Furnishing Additional proof
It elucidates that at the phase of challenging the award, the court will not
look into any material except the record of the arbitral tribunal. Supreme
court of India recently in compilation with amendment act established that
under section 34 of the act the courts while exercising their powers should
restrain their inspection only to the arbitral records.
Applicability of arbitration and conciliation (amendment) act, 2015
Basically section 87 of the act provides that 2015 amendment shall not apply
with the arbitration proceedings or any court proceeding arising out of it
started prior to 23rd October 2015.
The 2019 Amendment act has certain goals for removing the difficulties which
were being faced during the conduct of arbitration proceedings and court
proceedings arising out of them. To merge Indian arbitration with current
international practices some effective statutory changes are made and it is
a great step for the current scenario of India.
Now arbitral tribunals will have a full period of one year for the whole
process of arbitration and passing the award this is because of the distinct
timelines given for the completion of proceedings. With an upsurge in the
role of arbitral institutions, it would likely to get a boost.
It gives an explanation with respect to the applicability of the 2015
amendments with forthcoming effect for removing any kind of confusion. Also,
there are some limitations in this amendment act like foreign registered
lawyers are not eligible for the Indian arbitration and this condition could
hinder India to become an attractive destination for international
Written By: Meenakshi Gupta -
4th-year student at Ideal Institute of
Management and Technology and School of Law, affiliated by GGSIPU.