Law Commission Reports
During the last few years, a series of court decisions in India have strengthened the pro-arbitration stance in the Indian judiciary. In BALCO (2012), the Supreme Court of India limited the supervisory jurisdiction of the Indian courts regarding arbitrations seated outside India. Since BALCO, further decisions of the Supreme Court and High Courts of India have elaborated on issues such as the remit of “public policy of India” in enforcement of foreign arbitral awards (Shri Lal Mahal v Progetto Grano Spa (2013), reference to issues relating to fraud to arbitration (WSG v MSM Satellite (2014) and Swiss Timing v Organising Committee (2014)), and doctrine of severability in arbitration (Mulheim Pipecoatings v Welspun Fintrade (2013)).
However, a number of thorny issues still remain in Indian arbitration. Some of these issues, discussed below, are purely legal. Others relate to larger questions of policy and practice. The Indian Law Commission’s Report on Amendments to Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996, issued in August 2014, as discussed on this blog previously, is a step further in the pro-arbitration trends and the legislative amendments proposed by the Law Commissions appear to reinforce the pro-arbitration practices in India.
The Law Commission’s Report deals with some of the commonplace issues in arbitrations in India, which range widely from cultural issues in the arbitration community (“… culture of frequent adjournment where arbitration is treated as secondary by the lawyers…”) to legal questions such as the scope of “public policy of India” to set aside an arbitral award issued in India. Dealing with these issues, the Law Commission proposes a wide array of legislative amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 (“Arbitration Act”).