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Mumbai Centre for Int’l Arbitration (MCIA) publishes rules, fees, hires registrar from Trilegal: But can it beat SIAC?

MCIA's new registrar Neeti Sachdeva, CEO Madhukeshwar Desai
MCIA's new registrar Neeti Sachdeva, CEO Madhukeshwar Desai

The Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration (MCIA) is nearly up and running, having published its arbitration rules and schedule of fees on its website, and now, since 1 June, having a full-time registrar after hiring former Trilegal senior associate Neeti Sachdeva, who has previously also worked with Economic Laws Practice (ELP), the LCIA and Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer in Paris.

Sachdeva said that the MCIA’s fee structure was intentionally structured to be cheaper than other international institutional arbitration bodies, such as the most popular institutional system for Indian corporates, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC), or the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) or the ICC.

“It's much cheaper than Singapore, LCIA or ICC,” said Sachdeva.

She also explained that the new MCIA rules were drafted via a combination of international rules, with several salient features for the Indian market, including provision for:

  • MCIA emergency arbitrators who could provide enforceable relief within 28 days,
  • scrutiny of awards by the MCIA as a “sanity check”, to ensure that the award is sound and therefore less likely to be challenged in Indian courts.

She said that they were aiming for disputes to typically be settled within 12 to 14 months.

By September, the MCIA would be running a 7,000 square feet arbitration centre in Mumbai’s Express Towers 20th floor, with state-of-the-art facilities that will be available for any arbitration to hire, with costs still to be decided.

“More case handlers will be joining us, and once we have the premises ready – in September or so - then of course we will also have a staff to manage the premises,” explained Sachdeva. “Until and unless we're flooded with matters, we want to keep our overheads as low as possible.”

Structure

The MCIA is incorporated as a not-for-profit trust with its only current full-time employees being Sachdeva, and its chief executive officer (CEO) Madhukeshwar Desai, who previously worked at PXV Law Partners and now also acts as adviser to the Maharashtra Basketball Association, the Basketball Federation of India and the Government of Maharashtra.

While it is an initiative spearheaded by the Maharashtra government and Desai, with a look at international successful arbitration centres, they have intentionally not taken government funding but instead come up with their starting corpus by donations from a variety of corporates.

The MCIA council includes 17 international and domestic arbitrators, law firm lawyers and counsel, who are all part of the body pro bono, said Sachdeva.

Both sides of the Amarchand Shroff family are represented on the council with both Cyril Shroff and Pallavi Shroff having seats.

“A good mix of both domestic and international arbitration practitioners… have lent their name for the arbitration council. They're very hopeful [that MCIA will be successful],” said Sachdeva.

Next steps

“We're here for long haul for sure, and that’s what the idea is, that's why we've first launched our rules,” said Sachdeva. “

“The next step of course is to launch our premises in September, and over a period of time - one step at a time - starting the training for arbitrators as well and building a pool of arbitrators.”

Going forward, she would work primarily on interacting with the community and letting people know that MCIA exists.

And will the MCIA manage to get law firm lawyers to use MCIA arbitration clauses as boilerplate?

“We have council members who are supporting us: the reason they have lent their name, they understand and believe in MCIA,” said Sachdeva. “I am hopeful that they would be recommending MCIA clauses to their parties, but I don't think that they would want to put undue pressure to commit themselves .

“But at the same time they have lent their name and have confidence in us.”

The rules are available here.

List of council members

John Beechey
Former President of the ICC International Court of Arbitration

Vyapak Desai
Co Chairman, MCIA Council of Arbitration,
Partner, Nishith Desai & Associates,

Nakul Dewan
Counsel, 20 Essex Street

Shreyas Jayasimha
Founding Partner, Aarna Law Advocates

Christopher Lau
Former Judicial Commissioner, Singapore Supreme Court

Promod Nair
Managing Partner, Arista Chambers

Vikram Nankani
Senior Advocate

Justice Nijjar
Former Indian Supreme Court Justice

Nicholas Peacock
Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills (London)

Michael Pryles
Former Chairman of Singapore International Arbitration Centre President, Asia Pacific Regional Arbitration Group

Justice Rebello
Former Chief Justice of the Allahabad High Court

David W. Rivkin
Co-Chair of Debevoise’s International Dispute Resolution Group and President of the International Bar Association (IBA). A litigation

Sir Bernard Rix
Former Lord Justice, English Court of Appeal

Nish Shetty
Co Chairman, MCIA Council of Arbitration,
Head of Litigation and Dispute Resolution, Clifford Chance South East Asia,

Cyril Shroff
Managing Partner, Cyril Amarchand Mangaldas

Pallavi Shroff
Managing Partner, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas

James Spigelman
Former Chief Justice of New South Wales

The fee schedule (via website)

The administration fees calculated in accordance with the Schedule below apply to all arbitrations administered by MCIA and is the maximum amount payable to MCIA.

Sum in Dispute (INR) Administration Fees (INR)
Low High Fixed Variable
1,000,000 50,000 0.000%
1,000,001 5,000,000 50,000 4.375%
5,000,001 10,000,000 225,000 3.500%
10,000,001 50,000,000 400,000 2.000%
50,000,001 100,000,000 1,200,000 1.300%
100,000,001 500,000,000 1,850,000 0.319%
500,000,001 1,000,000,000 3,125,000 0.250%
1,000,000,001 5,000,000,000 4,375,000 0.062%
5,000,000,001 10,000,000,000 6,850,000 0.020%
10,000,000,001 7,850,000

The administration fees do not include the following:

  • Fees and expenses of the Tribunal
  • Usage cost of facilities and support services for and in connection with any hearing (e.g. hearing rooms and equipment, transcription and interpretation services etc)
  • Out of pocket expenses

Arbitrator’s fees

The fee calculated in accordance with the Schedule below is the maximum amount payable to one arbitrator

Sum in Dispute (INR) Arbitrator’ s Fees (INR)
Low High Fixed Variable
1,000,000 100,000 0.000%
1,000,001 5,000,000 100,000 3.750%
5,000,001 10,000,000 250,000 3.000%
10,000,001 50,000,000 400,000 1.438%
50,000,001 100,000,000 975,000 0.900%
100,000,001 500,000,000 1,425,000 0.463%
500,000,001 1,000,000,000 3,275,000 0.115%
1,000,000,001 5,000,000,000 3,850,000 0.104%
5,000,000,001 10,000,000,000 8,025,000 0.053%
10,000,000,001 10,650,000
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