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CJI Thakur: Indian arbitration has to seriously pick up its game

The new Chief Justice of India (CJI) TS Thakur on Friday said for arbitration to succeed in India, all those involved in the process, be it the arbitrator or the lawyers, would have to act professionally.

Pointing out that the arbitration overseas was highly professional, he said that it was this lack of professional approach that was coming in the way of arbitration not flourishing in India.

“If you want to flourish in India, you have to be professionally competent” and “a matter (under arbitration) must finish once it has started otherwise it becomes oppressive both to the parties to arbitration and the arbitrator,” he said in his inaugural address at the two-day international conference ‘Arbitration in the era of globalisation’ organised by the Indian Council of Arbitration and business chamber FICCI

He said that while in India, an arbitrator sits for two hours, in London, they sit for eight hours with half an hour break.

Similarly, Chief Justice Thakur said that if litigant was paying a lawyer, then the lawyer could not seek adjournment to suit his schedule.

Calling for a change in the legal format of arbitration, he said that there were things in law that need a relook but expressed satisfaction that the government was alive to it and was making changes, citing the instance of it bringing amendments even to the ordinance relating to the Arbitration Act.

Saying that there was no conflict between the judiciary and arbitration, he assured that judiciary from top to bottom would support its growth as it would take away that much burden of the judiciary.

However, he urged the judiciary to be sensitive and restrained in interfering with arbitration awards.

“Judiciary also needs to be sensitive. You need to (show) restraint in interfering in the arbitration awards. In any arbitration, one has to lose, both (the parties to arbitration) cannot walk out happily,” he said.

However, he stressed need for “a proper format that may not provide for an open-ended challenge to the arbitration award”.

Noting that arbitration was prevalent even in ancient India and merchants took recourse to it for settling commercial disputes, former apex court judge SS Nijjar said that effort needs to be made for India to become an “arbitration-friendly nation”.

“We have to grow as an arbitration-friendly nation” and it can happen only if we have a system of giving finality to arbitration awards coupled with speedy arbitration and no multitude of litigations,” he said.

FICCI president Jyotsna Suri also spoke on the occasion.

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