You are currently viewing Debate on Separate Arbitration Statutes for India: Insights from Legal Experts

Debate on Separate Arbitration Statutes for India: Insights from Legal Experts

Legal experts gathered at the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) Annual India Conference 2023 in Delhi engaged in a spirited Oxford-style debate on whether India should have two distinct statutes for domestic and international arbitration. Advocates presented their perspectives on this topic.

Advocating for Two Separate Acts

Senior Advocate Pinky Anand and Advocate Vijayendra Pratap Singh argued in favor of having two separate arbitration acts. Anand noted that while there is a de facto split between domestic and international arbitration in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, it is not effective. She emphasized that countries like Singapore and Canada have more effective dual regimes, making them international arbitration hubs.

Anand highlighted the need for different enforceability standards for international and domestic awards, expressing concerns about the concept of public policy being applied broadly to both. She argued that separate parameters can be established through two acts.

Opposing the Motion

Senior Advocate Darius J Khambata and Advocate Anuradha Dutt opposed the motion. Khambata asserted that the 2015 amendment to the Indian Act has already introduced a limited binary regime aimed at attracting foreign investment. He suggested that improving the quality of arbitration, similar to the transformation seen in cricket with the Indian Premier League (IPL), is key to becoming a global arbitration hub.

Dutt contended that the issue with arbitration in India lies not in the law but in its implementation and the ecosystem. She called for better training for lawyers and arbitrators and a specialized approach to arbitration.

Verdict and Differing Opinions

After deliberation, the two judges, former Chief Justice of India UU Lalit and former Supreme Court judge Justice AK Sikri, delivered a split verdict. Lalit expressed a conservative view against any change, while Sikri ruled in favor of two separate regimes, highlighting the weight of arguments presented by both sides.

The debate underscores the complex and contentious nature of the issue, with experts divided on whether India should maintain a unitary arbitration law or opt for a binary regime with separate statutes for domestic and international arbitration.


Leave a Reply