The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015

The Act no. 3 of 2016, viz. the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act of 2015 is recently enacted as the Act of Parliament and it was passed by both the houses of parliament in the winter session, and also the President of India has assented this law on December 31st, 2015. And soon it was notified in the Official Gazette, it is also brought in to force. The present Amending Act is enacted to amend the provisions of the Principal Act, viz. the Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996 (Act no. 26 of 1996) which was enacted for the purpose of consolidating and amending the law relating to the domestic arbitration, international commercial arbitration and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards. Moreover, in its purpose it is also seeking to define the law relation to the conciliation. Thus, the Principal enactment is a full- fledge law on the Arbitration and Conciliation topic in India.

It was seen in the last year (2015) on October 23, the Government of India, through an executive action had promulgated the Ordinance, namely, Arbitration and Conciliation Ordinance, 2015, where the large scale changes were sought to be made in Principal Act of 1996 with intention to expediting the process and reducing court interference. Even though the said Ordinance was welcomed, however, there was seen an issue that whether the same be applied to fresh arbitration or pending proceedings. But, for clarifying the status of the ordinance, the High Court of Madras, in Delphi TVS Diesel Systems Vs. Union Of India, had issued notice to the Central Government. Moreover, the High Court of Bombay had also issued notice in relation to Kochi Cricket Vs. BCCI. As such, the Ordinance was brought before the Lok Sabha in the form of Bill and it was passed by Lok Sabha, clarifying the said issue, stated that unless the parties agrees otherwise, the said provisions in the Ordinance will not be applicable to the pending cases.

The present Amending Act is as such containing, in all 27 sections, and also notably, it is seeking to repeal the aforementioned Ordinance, with its last section. Moreover, specifically there are some key amendments made through this Amending Act of 2015, in which the scheme of the principal civil court or high court to the relevant courts in Principal Act is modified and also, this Amending Act is making High Court as relevant court for international arbitration matters too. Moreover, by amending the same section 2, the present Amending Act is providing that the Principal enactment’s provisions, in relation to the Interim order, order of the arbitral tribunal and appealable orders, etc., will also be applicable to the International Commercial Arbitrations. Moreover, by amending section 8 of the Principal Act, the Amending Act provide that the judicial authority shall refer the parties to the arbitration, irrespective of that there is existing a previous court’s contrary judgement. Moreover, when any interim measure of protection order is passed by the court under section 9 of the Principal Act, the Amending Act sought to provide that the arbitration proceedings shall be started within the 90 days from the date of such order. Moreover, no applications should be entertained by the Court, when the arbitration proceedings have been started. Moreover, through this Amending Act, a new provisions i.e. Section 11A to the Principal Act is added, in which the Central is empowered to amend the Fourth Schedule.

Also, section 12 of the Principal Act is amended to provide that the Arbitrator’s appearance should be stating in writing the several circumstances which are added through this Amending Act. Moreover, on the termination of the mandate of an arbitrator, as per Section 14 of the Principal Act, the Amending Act sought his substitution by another arbitrator.  Also, some other provisions are amended by this Amending Act, which have also been brought in to force along with above discussed provisions.

Read the Bare Act here