In the realm of alternative dispute resolution mechanisms, arbitration has made a significant mark due to its simplicity, cost-effectiveness, and speedy resolution. In India, The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, has been pivotal in regulating arbitration, ushering in accelerated procedures like the Fast Track Procedure under Section 29B. In this article, legal experts at SimranLaw will dissect this complex legal provision, providing readers with a deeper understanding from their years of experience in law.
Section 29B – An Overview
Section 29B, added to the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act in 2015, introduces the Fast Track Procedure in Arbitration. The parties can agree to resort to this procedure either before or after the dispute arises. Once agreed upon, the arbitral tribunal shall decide the dispute on written pleadings, documents and submissions filed by the parties without an oral hearing. The award needs to be made within six months from the date of entering upon reference.
The Expert’s Perspective
At SimranLaw, we understand that time is of utmost importance in any legal proceeding. The Fast Track Procedure caters to this need for promptness. However, it requires the consent of all parties involved – a feature that recognizes party autonomy as a cornerstone of arbitration.
Notably, this procedure is document-centric and does not involve an oral hearing unless required by the parties. This places immense emphasis on the quality of documentary evidence and written submissions, requiring lawyers to be meticulous in their presentation and evaluation of evidence.
1. M/S N.N. Global Mercantile Pvt. Ltd. vs M/S Indo Unique Flame Ltd & Others (2021)
In this case, the Supreme Court held that the contractual freedom to choose a method of dispute resolution does not extend to avoiding the statutory mandate of arbitration being anchored in the principles of fairness, impartiality, and neutrality. This verdict has highlighted the need for a balanced approach, advocating for party autonomy but also ensuring necessary checks against possible misuse.
2. Perkins Eastman Architects DPC & Anr. v. HSCC (India) Ltd. (2019)
In this case, it was held that a party interested in the outcome of the dispute cannot appoint a sole arbitrator. This ruling underscores the principle of neutrality in arbitrations and highlights how this must be maintained even in fast-track procedures.
3. Voestalpine Schienen GmBH v Delhi Metro Rail Corporation Ltd (2017)
The Supreme Court in this case underlined the importance of having a broad-based panel of neutral arbitrators for selection by parties, affirming the position that party autonomy is not an absolute right but subjected to procedural fairness and equality.
In conclusion, Section 29B has provided an expedited avenue for dispute resolution but must be navigated carefully considering its intricate rules and principles. At SimranLaw, we believe that understanding these complexities can make a world of difference in an arbitration proceeding.