Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996



  • Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996

    Introduction to Arbitration and Conciliation Act

    1. Short title, extent and commencement.—

    (1) This Act may be called the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.

    (2) It extends to the whole of India:

    Provided that Parts I, III and IV shall extend to the State of Jammu and Kashmir only in so far as they relate to international commercial arbitration or, as the case may be, international commercial conciliation.

    Explanation.—In this sub-section, the expression “international commercial conciliation” shall have the same meaning as the expression “international commercial arbitration” in clause (f) of sub-section (1) of section 2, subject to the modification that for the word “arbitration” occurring therein, the word “conciliation” shall be substituted.

    (3) It shall come into force on such date1 as the Central Government may, by notification in the official Gazette, appoint.

    —————

    1. Came into force on 22-8-1996 vide G.S.R. 375 (E), dated 22nd August, 1996.
     

    2. Definitions.—

    (1) In this Part, unless the context otherwise requires,—

    (a) “arbitration” means any arbitration whether or not administered by permanent arbitral institution;

    (b) “arbitration agreement” means an agreement referred to in section 7;

    (c) “arbitral award” includes an interim award;

    (d) “arbitral tribunal” means a sole arbitrator or a panel of arbitrators;

    (e) “Court” means the principal Civil Court of original jurisdiction in a district, and includes the High Court in exercise of its ordinary original civil jurisdiction, having jurisdiction to decide the questions forming the subject-matter of the arbitration if the same had been the subject-matter of a suit, but does not include any civil court of a grade inferior to such principal Civil Court, or any Court of Small Causes;

    (f) “international commercial arbitration” means an arbitration relating to disputes arising out of legal relationships, whether contractual or not, considered as commercial under the law in force in India and where at least one of the parties is—

    (i) an individual who is a national of, or habitually resident in, any country other than India; or

    (ii) a body corporate which is incorporated in any country other than India; or

    (iii) a company or an association or a body of individuals whose central management and control is exercised in any country other than India; or

    (iv) the Government of a foreign country;

    (g) “legal representative” means a person who in law represents the estate of a deceased person, and includes any person who intermeddles with the estate of the deceased, and, where a party acts in a representative character, the person on whom the estate devolves on the death of the party so acting;

    (h) “party” means a party to an arbitration agreement.

    Scope

    (2) This Part shall apply where the place of arbitration is in India.

    (3) This Part shall not affect any other law for the time being in force by virtue of which certain disputes may not be submitted to arbitration.

    (4) This Part except sub-section (1) of section 40, sections 41 and 43 shall apply to every arbitration under any other enactment for the time being in force, as if the arbitration were pursuant to an arbitration agreement and as if that other enactment were an arbitration agreement, except in so far as the provisions of this Part are inconsistent with that other enactment or with any rules made thereunder.

    (5) Subject to the provisions of sub-section (4), and save in so far as is otherwise provided by any law for the time being in force or in any agreement in force between India and any other country or countries, this Part shall apply to all arbitrations and to all proceedings relating thereto.

    Construction of references

    (6) Where this Part, except section 28, leaves the parties free to determine a certain issue, that freedom shall include the right of the parties to authorise any person including an institution, to determine that issue.

    (7) An arbitral award made under this Part shall be considered as a domestic award.

    (8) Where this Part—

    (a) refers to the fact that the parties have agreed or that they may agree, or

    (b) in any other way refers to an agreement of the parties, that agreement shall include any arbitration rules referred to in that agreement.

    (9) Where this Part, other than clause (a) of section 25 or clause (a) of sub-section (2) of section 32, refers to a claim, it shall also apply to a counter-claim, and where it refers to a defence, it shall also apply to a defence to that counter-claim.

    comments

    International Commercial Arbitration: Scope of

    Where at least one of the parties is an individual having nationality of another country other than India or a body corporate which is incorporated in any country other than India or an association or a body of individuals whose central management and control is exercised in any country other than India or the government of a foreign country, the same would be a case of international commercial arbitration. The respondent here in is a body corporate which is incorporated in a country other than India and therefore, in terms of the aforesaid definition the present admittedly is a case of international commercial arbitration; Dominant Offset Pvt. Ltd. v. Adamovske Strojirny A.S., 1997 (2) Arb LR 335.
     

    3. Receipt of written communications.—

    (1) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties,—

    (a) any written communication is deemed to have been received if it is delivered to the addressee personally or at his place of business, habitual residence or mailing address, and

    (b) if none of the places referred to in clause (a) can be found after making a reasonable inquiry, a written communication is deemed to have been received if it is sent to the addressee’s last known place of business, habitual residence or mailing address by registered letter or by any other means which provides a record of the attempt to deliver it.

    (2) The communication is deemed to have been received on the day it is so delivered.

    (3) This section does not apply to written communications in respect of proceedings of any judicial authority.
     

    4. Waiver of right to object.—

    A party who knows that—

    (a) any provision of this Part from which the parties may derogate, or

    (b) any requirement under the arbitration agreement,has not been omplied with and yet proceeds with the arbitration without stating his objection to such non-compliance without undue delay or, if a time limit is provided for stating that objection, within that period of time, shall be deemed to have waived his right to so object.
     

    5. Extent of judicial intervention.—

    Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, in matters governed by this Part, no judicial authority shall intervene except where so provided in this Part.

    Comments

    Interim relief—Grant of

    In the present case, it was held that courts in India have no power to issue interim order under section 9 of the Act in the matter when arbitration is held at a place outside India. If court is not having jurisdiction to pass any interim order, in such cases, inherent powers not to be exercised, to confer jurisdiction upon itself. To exercise any inherent power court must have jurisdiction over the proceedings before it; Marriat International Inc. v. Ansal Hotels Ltd., 2000 (3) Arb LR 369.
     

    6. Administrative assistance.—

    In order to facilitate the conduct of the arbitral proceedings, the parties, or the arbitral tribunal with the consent of the parties, may arrange for administrative assistance by a suitable institution or person.
     

    7. Arbitration agreement.—

    (1) In this Part, “arbitration agreement” means an agreement by the parties to submit to arbitration all or certain disputes which have arisen or which may arise between them in respect of a defined legal relationship, whether contractual or not.

    (2) An arbitration agreement may be in the form of an arbitration clause in a contract or in the form of a separate agreement.

    (3) An arbitration agreement shall be in writing.

    (4) An arbitration agreement is in writing if it is contained in—

    (a) a document signed by the parties;

    (b) an exchange of letters, telex, telegrams or other means of telecommunication which provide a record of the agreement; or

    (c) an exchange of statements of claim and defence in which the existence of the agreement is alleged by one party and not denied by the other.

    (5) The reference in a contract to a document containing an arbitration clause constitutes an arbitration agreement if the contract is in writing and the reference is such as to make that arbitration clause part of the contract.

    COMMENTS

    Competence of Arbitrator

    The arbitrator is competent to decide the objection on its own jurisdiction whether appointed as per the terms of the agreement within the provisions of section or appointed under the provisions of section 11; State of Jharkhand v. R.K. Construction (Pvt.) Ltd ., AIR 2006 Jhar 98.

    What constitute an arbitration agreement, well settled principles in respect thereof In regard to what constitutes an arbitration agreement, the well settled principles are—

    (i) The intention of the parties to enter into an arbitration agreement shall have to be gathered from the terms of the agreement. If the terms of the agreement clearly indicate an intention on the part of the parties to the agreement to refer their disputes to a private tribunal for adjudication and an willingness to be bound by the decision of such tribunal on such disputes, it is arbitration agreement. While there is no specific form of an arbitration agreement, the words used should disclose a determination and obligation to go to arbitration and not merely contemplate the possibility of going for arbitration. Where there is merely a possibility of the parties agreeing to arbitration in future, as contrasted from an obligation to refer disputes to arbitration, there is no valid and binding arbitration agreement.

    (ii) Even if the words ‘arbitration’ and ‘arbitral tribunal (or arbitrator)’ are not used with reference to the process of settlement or with reference to the private tribunal which has to adjudicate upon the disputes, in a clause relating to settle­ment of disputes, it does not detract from the clause being an arbitration agreement if it has the attributes or elements of an arbitration agreement. They are: (a) The agreement should be in writing, (b) The parties should have agreed to refer any disputes (present or future) between them to the decision of a private tribunal, (c) The private tribunal should be empow­ered to adjudicate upon the disputes in an impartial manner, giving due opportunity to the parties to put forth their case before it. (d) The parties should have agreed that the decision of the Private Tribunal in respect of the disputes will be binding on them.

    (iii) Where the clause provides that in the event of disputes arising between the parties, the disputes shall be referred to Arbitration, it is an arbitration agreement. Where there is a specific and direct expression of intent to have the disputes settled by arbitration, it is not necessary to set out the attributes of an arbitration agreement to make it an arbitration agreement. But where the clause relating to set­tlement of disputes, contains words which specifically ex­cludes any of the attributes of an arbitration agreement or contains anything that detracts from an arbitration agree­ment, it will not be an arbitration agreement. For example, where an agreement requires or permits an authority to decide a claim or dispute without hearing, or requires the authority to act in the interests of only one of the parties, or provides that the decision of the Authority will not be final and binding on the parties, or that if either party is not satisfied with the decision of the Authority, he may file a civil suit seeking relief, it cannot be termed as an arbitration agreement.

    (iv) But mere use of the word ‘arbitration’ or ‘arbitrator’ in a clause will not make it an arbitration agreement, if it requires or contemplates a further or fresh consent of the parties for reference to arbitration. For example, use of words such as “parties can, if they so desire, refer their disputes to arbitration” or “in the event of any dispute, the parties may also agree to refer the same to arbitration” or “if any disputes arise between the parties, they should consider settlement by arbitration” in a clause relating to settlement of disputes, indicate that the clause is not intended to be an arbitration agreement. Similarly, a clause which states that “if the parties so decide, the disputes shall be referred to arbitration” or “any disputes between parties, if they so agree, shall be referred to arbitration” is not an arbitration agreement. Such clauses merely indicate a desire or hope to have the disputes settled by arbitration, or a tentative arrangement to explore arbitra­tion as a mode of settlement if and when a dispute arises. Such clauses require the parties to arrive at a further agree­ment to go to arbitration, as and when the disputes arise. Any agreement or clause in an agreement requiring or contemplating a further consent or consensus before a reference to arbitration, is not an arbitration agreement, but an agreement to enter into an arbitration agreement in future; Jagdish Chander v. Ramesh Chander, (2007) 5 SCC 719.
     

    8. Power to refer parties to arbitration where there is an arbitration agreement.—

    (1) A judicial authority before which an action is brought in a matter which is the subject of an arbitration agreement shall, if a party so applies not later than when submitting his first statement on the substance of the dispute, refer the parties to arbitration.

    (2) The application referred to in sub-section (1) shall not be entertained unless it is accompanied by the original arbitration agreement or a duly certified copy thereof.

    (3) Notwithstanding that an application has been made under sub-section (1) and that the issue is pending before the judicial authority, an arbitration

    may be commenced or continued and an arbitral award made.

    Comments

    Appointment of Arbitrator

    It is not duty of court to adjourn a matter to enable parties to report to court about appointment of Arbitrator and then make reference; Pawan Sharma v. Tarkeshwar Shah, AIR 2007 (NOC) 156 (HP).

    Expression—First statement on the substance of the dispute

    The expression ‘first statement on the substance of the dispute’ contained in sub-section (1) of section 8 must be contra-distinguished with the expression ‘written statement’. It employs submission of the party to the jurisdiction of the judicial authority. What is, therefore, needed is a finding on the part of judicial authority that the party has waived his right to invoke the arbitration clause. If an application is filed before actually filing the first statement on the substance of the dispute, the party cannot be said to have waived his right or acquiesced himself to the jurisdiction of the court; Rashtriya Ispat Nigam Ltd. v. Verma Transport Company, AIR 2006 SC 2800.

    Jurisdiction of Civil Court

    (i) The language of section 8 is peremptory in nature. Therefore, in cases where there is an arbitration clause in the agreement, it is obligatory for the court to refer the parties to arbitration in terms of their arbitration agreement and nothing remains to be decided in the original action after such an application is made except to refer the dispute to an arbitrator; P. Anand Gajapathi Raju v. P.V.G. Raju (Dead), 2000 (4) SCC 539.

    (ii) Mere existence of arbitration clause in agreement does not bar jurisdiction of Civil Court automatically; Mahesh Kumar v. Rajasthan State Road Transport Corporation, AIR 2006 Raj 56.

    Power of Court to appoint Arbitrator

    Power of Court to refer parties for arbitration would and must necessarily include, imply and inhere in it the power and jurisdiction to appoint Arbitrator also; Afcons Infrastructure Ltd. v. Cherian Varkey Construction Co. (P) Ltd., Kochi, AIR 2007 (NOC) 233 (Ker).

    Scope and object

    Scope and object of section 8 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 and section 34 of the Arbitration Act, 1940 is different. Therefore, these two respective provisions of different Acts have no application to deprive the party of the legitimate right to invoke section 8 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act to have the matter relating to the disputes referred to arbitration, in terms of the arbitration agreement; Kalpana Kothari v. Sudha Yadav, AIR 2001 SC 404.
     

    9. Interim measures, etc. by Court.—

    A party may, before or during arbitral proceedings or at any time after the making of the arbitral award but before it is enforced in accordance with section 36, apply to a court—

    (i) for the appointment of a guardian for a minor or a person of unsound mind for the purposes of arbitral proceedings; or

    (ii) for an interim measure of protection in respect of any of the following matters, namely:—

    (a) the preservation, interim custody or sale of any goods which are the subject-matter of the arbitration agreement;

    (b) securing the amount in dispute in the arbitration;

    (c) the detention, preservation or inspection of any property or thing which is the subject-matter of the dispute in arbitration, or as to which any question may arise therein and authorising for any of the aforesaid purposes any person to enter upon any land or building in the possession of any party, or authorising any samples to be taken or any observation to be made, or experiment to be tried, which may be necessary or expedient for the purpose of obtaining full information or evidence;

    (d) interim injunction or the appointment of a receiver;

    (e) such other interim measure of protection as may appear to the court to be just and convenient,and the Court shall have the same power for making orders as it has for the purpose of, and in relation to, any proceedings before it.

    Comments

    Interim protection

    A party or a person is entitled to interim protection if action of the other party is either in breach of the terms of the agreement or militates against equity, fair play or natural justice, otherwise not; Baby Arya v. Delhi Vidyut Board, AIR 2002 Del 50.

    Pendency of any arbitral proceedings is not a pre-condition for an exercise of power by the court

    Pendency of any arbitral proceedings is not a pre-condition for exercise of power by court. The court may grant interim relief before or during arbitral proceedings or at anytime after making of the arbitral award but before it is enforced; Globe Cogeneration Power Ltd. v. Sri Hiranyakeshi Sahkari Sakkere Karkhane Niyamit, AIR 2005 Kant 94.

    Scope

    Section 9 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, only deals with the interim measure by the court. Obviously it is not within the scope of this section to inquire into the claim and the counter-claim made by both the parties in regard to the custody of the articles beyond what has been admitted by the respondent; Narain Sahai Aggarwal v. Santosh Rani, 1997 (2) Arb LR 322.
     

    10. Number of arbitrators.—

    (1) The parties are free to determine the number of arbitrators, provided that such number shall not be an even number.

    (2) Failing the determination referred to in sub-section (1), the arbitral tribunal shall consist of a sole arbitrator.

    Comments

    Number of arbitrators

    The parties are at liberty to determine the number of arbitrators, but such number shall not be an even number. If the parties fail to provide for an odd number of arbitrators, the arbitral tribunal shall be constituted by a sole arbitrator; Sri Venkateshwara Construction Co. v. Union of India, AIR 2001 AP 284.

    In the present case, a contract between the two parties M and S provided that each party shall nominate one arbitrator and the two arbitrators shall then appoint an umpire before proceeding with the reference. S invoked arbitration clause and appointed an arbitrator under the agreement after the 1996 Act came into force. It was contended by the M that the arbitration agreement provided for the appointment of two arbitrators while section 10(1) of the 1996 Act does not envisage the appointment of an even number of arbitrators and that the only remedy in such a case was by way of suit and not by arbitration. The Supreme Court held that there is nothing in section 7 to indicate the requirement of the number of arbitrators as a part of the arbitration agreement. Thus the validity of an arbitration agreement does not depend on the number of arbitrators specified therein. The number of arbitrators is dealt with separately in section 10 which is a part of machinery provision for the working of the arbitration agreement. It is, therefore, clear that an agreement specifying an even number of arbitrators cannot be a ground to render the arbitration agreement invalid under the 1996 Act. In view of the term in the arbitration agreement that the two arbitrators would appoint an umpire, the requirement of section 10(1) was satisfied. In other words, the arbitration agreement was not for an even number of arbitrators and section 10(2) was not attracted. The arbitration agreement was deemed to be one providing for three arbitrators; M.M.T.C. Ltd. v. Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd., AIR 1997 SC 605.
     

    11. Appointment of arbitrators.—

    (1) A person of any nationality may be an arbitrator, unless otherwise agreed by the parties.

    (2) Subject to sub-section (6), the parties are free to agree on a procedure for appointing the arbitrator or arbitrators.

    (3) Failing any agreement referred to in sub-section (2), in an arbitration with three arbitrators, each party shall appoint one arbitrator, and the two appointed arbitrators shall appoint the third arbitrator who shall act as the presiding arbitrator.

    (4) If the appointment procedure in sub-section (3) applies and—

    (a) a party fails to appoint an arbitrator within thirty days from the receipt of a request to do so from the other party; or

    (b) the two appointed arbitrators fail to agree on the third arbitrator within thirty days from the date of their appointment, the appointment shall be made, upon request of a party, by the Chief Justice or any person or institution designated by him.

    (5) Failing any agreement referred to in sub-section (2), in an arbitration with a sole arbitrator, if the parties fail to agree on the arbitrator within thirty days from receipt of a request by one party from the other party to so agree the appointment shall be made, upon request of a party, by the Chief Justice or any person or institution designated by him.

    (6) Where, under an appointment procedure agreed upon by the parties,—

    (a) a party fails to act as required under that procedure; or

    (b) the parties, or the two appointed arbitrators, fail to reach an agreement expected of them under that procedure; or

    (c) a person, including an institution, fails to perform any function entrusted to him or it under that procedure,a party may request the Chief Justice or any person or institution designated by him to take the necessary measure, unless the agreement on the appointment procedure provides other means for securing the appointment.

    (7) A decision on a matter entrusted by sub-section (4) or sub-section (5) or sub-section (6) to the Chief Justice or the person or institution designated by him is final.

    (8) The Chief Justice or the person or institution designated by him, in appointing an arbitrator, shall have due regard to—

    (a) any qualifications required of the arbitrator by the agreement of the parties; and

    (b) other considerations as are likely to secure the appointment of an independent and impartial arbitrator.

    (9) In the case of appointment of sole or third arbitrator in an international commercial arbitration, the Chief Justice of India or the person or institution designated by him may appoint an arbitrator of a nationality other than the nationalities of the parties where the parties belong to different nationalities.

    (10) The Chief Justice may make such scheme1 as he may deem appropriate for dealing with matters entrusted by sub-section (4) or sub-section (5) or sub-section (6) to him.

    (11) Where more than one request has been made under sub-section (4) or sub-section (5) or sub-section (6) to the Chief Justices of different High Courts or their designates, the Chief Justice or his designate to whom the request has been first made under the relevant sub-section shall alone be competent to decide on the request.

    (12) (a) Where the matters referred to in sub-sections (4), (5), (6), (7), (8) and (10) arise in an international commercial arbitration, the reference to ‘‘Chief Justice’’ in those sub-sections shall be construed as a reference to the ‘‘Chief Justice of India’’.

    (b) Where the matters referred to in sub-sections (4), (5), (6), (7), (8) and (10) arise in any other arbitration, the reference to “Chief Justice” in those sub-sections shall be construed as a reference to the Chief Justice of the High Court within whose local limits the principal Civil Court referred to in clause (e) of sub-section (1) of section 2 is situate and, where the High Court itself is the Court referred to in that clause, to the Chief Justice of that High Court.

    Comments

    ‘A party’—Meaning of

    As per the Webiters Dictionary ‘A party’ in context of legal affairs is one of the litigants in legal proceeding, the plaintiff or defendant or a signatory to a legal instrument.

    The Chambers Dictionary defines ‘a party’ as each of the individuals or groups concerned in a contract agreement, law suit, etc.

    As per Oxford Dictionary the word ‘parties’ refers to a person or persons forming one side in an agreement or dispute.

    Whartons Law Lexicon, 14th edition defines the word ‘parties’ as persons jointly concerned in any deed or act; litigants.

    ’Agreement’—Meaning of

    As per Oxford Dictionary the word ‘agreement’ means an arrangement between the parties as to a course of action.

    As per Wharton’s Law Lexicon ’agreement’ means a consensus of two or more minds in anything done or to be done.

    Chambers Dictionary describes the word ‘agreement’ as a contract or term; a joint decision made after discussion.

    Discretion for appointment of arbitrator

    Exercise of discretion for appointment of same arbitrator even after forfeiture of right is improper; Suri Constructions v. State of Rajasthan, AIR 2006 Raj 53.

    Scope

    It is well settled that where an arbitrator is named in the arbitration agreement, the provisions of section 11 of the Act are not attracted and the court will not have jurisdiction to try and decide the petition filed by party for appointment of another arbitrator; Kamla Solvent v. Manipal Finance Corpn. Ltd., AIR 2001 Mad 440.

    Under section 11, there is no provision fixing any time limit except under sub-section (5) which provides the time limit of 30 days from the receipt of the request from the party for appointment of an arbitrator. Under sub-section (6) no such time limit have been fixed. It is required under the procedure, a party may request the Chief Justice or any person or institution designated by him to take the necessary measure, unless the agreement on the appointment procedure provides other means for securing the appointment; Ansal Properties & Industries Ltd. v. Himachal Pradesh State Electricity Board, AIR 1997 Arb LR 11.

    Existence of arbitration clause and validity of reference

    The existence of the arbitration clause and the validity of reference shall only be decided by the Arbitrator. It is also within the domain of the Arbitrator to decide whether the claim of the petitioner has already been settled on full satisfaction; Navratandas & Co. (P) Ltd. v. Tata Iron & Steel Co., AIR 2006 Jhar 7.

    —————

    1. See Appointment of Arbitrators by the Chief Justice of India Scheme, 1996, published in the Gazette of India, Extra., Pt. III, Sec. 1, dated 16th May, 1996.
     

    12. Grounds for challenge.—

    (1) When a person is approached in connection with his possible appointment as an arbitrator, he shall disclose in writing any circumstances likely to give rise to justifiable doubts as to his independence or impartiality.

    (2) An arbitrator, from the time of his appointment and throughout the arbitral proceedings, shall, without delay, disclose to the parties in writing any circumstances referred to in sub-section (1) unless they have already been informed of them by him.

    (3) An arbitrator may be challenged only if—

    (a) circumstances exist that give rise to justifiable doubts as to his independence or impartiality, or

    (b) he does not possess the qualifications agreed to by the parties.

    (4) A party may challenge an arbitrator appointed by him, or in whose appointment he has participated, only for reasons of which he becomes aware after the appointment has been made.
     

    13. Challenge procedure.—

    (1) Subject to sub-section (4), the parties are free to agree on a procedure for challenging an arbitrator.

    (2) Failing any agreement referred to in sub-section (1), a party who intends to challenge an arbitrator shall, within fifteen days after becoming aware of the constitution of the arbitral tribunal or after becoming aware of any circumstances referred to in sub-section (3) of section 12, send a written statement of the reasons for the challenge to the arbitral tribunal.

    (3) Unless the arbitrator challenged under sub-section (2) withdraws from his office or the other party agrees to the challenge, the arbitral tribunal shall decide on the challenge.

    (4) If a challenge under any procedure agreed upon by the parties or under the procedure under sub-section (2) is not successful, the arbitral tribunal shall continue the arbitral proceedings and make an arbitral award.

    (5) Where an arbitral award is made under sub-section (4), the party challenging the arbitrator may make an application for setting aside such an arbitral award in accordance with section 34.

    (6) Where an arbitral award is set aside on an application made under sub-section (5), the Court may decide as to whether the arbitrator who is challenged is entitled to any fees.
     

    14. Failure or impossibility to act.—

    (1) The mandate of an arbitrator shall terminate if—

    (a) he becomes de jure or de facto unable to perform his functions or for other reasons fails to act without undue delay; and

    (b) he withdraws from his office or the parties agree to the termination of his mandate.

    (2) If a controversy remains concerning any of the grounds referred to inclause (a) of sub-section (1), a party may, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, apply to the Court to decide on the termination of the mandate.

    (3) If, under this section or sub-section (3) of section 13, an arbitrator withdraws from his office or a party agrees to the termination of the mandate of an arbitrator, it shall not imply acceptance of the validity of any ground referred to in this section or sub-section (3) of section 12.
     

    15. Termination of mandate and substitution of arbitrator.—

    (1) In addition to the circumstances referred to in section 13 or section 14, the mandate of an arbitrator shall terminate—

    (a) where he withdraws from office for any reason; or

    (b) by or pursuant to agreement of the parties.

    (2) Where the mandate of an arbitrator terminates, a substitute arbitrator shall be appointed according to the rules that were applicable to the appointment of the arbitrator being replaced.

    (3) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, where an arbitrator is replaced under sub-section (2), any hearings previously held may be repeated at the discretion of the arbitral tribunal.

    (4) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, an order or ruling of the arbitral tribunal made prior to the replacement of an arbitrator under this section shall not be invalid solely because there has been a change in the composition of the arbitral tribunal.
     

    16. Competence of arbitral tribunal to rule on its jurisdiction.—

    (1) The arbitral tribunal may rule on its own jurisdiction, including ruling on any objections with respect to the existence or validity of the arbitration agreement, and for that purpose,—

    (a) an arbitration clause which forms part of a contract shall be treated as an agreement independent of the other terms of the contract; and

    (b) a decision by the arbitral tribunal that the contract is null and void shall not entail ipso jure the invalidity of the arbitration clause.

    (2) A plea that the arbitral tribunal does not have jurisdiction shall be raised not later than the submission of the statement of defence; however, a party shall not be precluded from raising such a plea merely because that he has appointed, or participated in the appointment of, an arbitrator.

    (3) A plea that the arbitral tribunal is exceeding the scope of its authority shall be raised as soon as the matter alleged to be beyond the scope of its authority is raised during the arbitral proceedings.

    (4) The arbitral tribunal may, in either of the cases referred to in sub-section (2) or sub-section (3), admit a later plea if it considers the delay justified.

    (5) The arbitral tribunal shall decide on a plea referred to in sub-section (2) or sub-section (3) and, where the arbitral tribunal takes a decision rejecting the plea, continue with the arbitral proceedings and make an arbitral award.

    (6) A party aggrieved by such an arbitral award may make an application for setting aside such an arbitral award in accordance with section 34.

    Comments

    Jurisdiction of Civil Court

    During pendency of arbitration, civil court has no jurisdiction to entertain petition and decide nature of objections raised therein. Questions can be raised before and decided by arbitrator; State of Jharkhand v. Himachal Construction Co. Pvt. Ltd., AIR 2006 NOC 249 (Jhar).

    Power of the arbitrator to decide jurisdiction

    The Arbitrator himself in exercise of power conferred on him by or under section 16 can decide the question whether or not the arbitration clause in question was scored out at the time of agreement between the parties and as such, whether or not he has jurisdiction to decide the matter or adjudicate the dispute; State of Orissa v. Surendranath Kanungo, AIR 2004 Ori 153.
     

    17. Interim measures ordered by arbitral tribunal.—

    (1) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the arbitral tribunal may, at the request of a party, order a party to take any interim measure of protection as the arbitral tribunal may consider necessary in respect of the subject-matter of the dispute.

    (2) The arbitral tribunal may require a party to provide appropriate security in connection with a measure ordered under sub-section (1).
     

    18. Equal treatment of parties.—

    The parties shall be treated with equality and each party shall be given a full opportunity to present his case.
     

    19. Determination of rules of procedure.—

    (1) The arbitral tribunal shall not be bound by the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908) or the Indian Evidence Act, 1872 (1 of 1872).

    (2) Subject to this Part, the parties are free to agree on the procedure to be followed by the arbitral tribunal in conducting its proceedings.

    (3) Failing any agreement referred to in sub-section (2), the arbitral tribunal may, subject to this Part, conduct the proceedings in the manner it considers appropriate.

    (4) The power of the arbitral tribunal under sub-section (3) includes the power to determine the admissibility, relevance, materiality and weight of any evidence.
     

    20. Place of arbitration.—

    (1) The parties are free to agree on the place of arbitration.

    (2) Failing any agreement referred to in sub-section (1), the place of arbitration shall be determined by the arbitral tribunal having regard to the circumstances of the case, including the convenience of the parties.

    (3) Notwithstanding sub-section (1) or sub-section (2), the arbitral tribunal may, unless otherwise agreed by the parties, meet at any place it considers appropriate for consultation among its members, for hearing witnesses, experts or the parties, or for inspection of documents, goods or other property.
     

    21. Commencement of arbitral proceedings.—

    Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the arbitral proceedings in respect of a particular dispute commence on the date on which a request for that dispute to be referred to arbitration is received by the respondent.

    Comments

    Object

    Section 21 of the Act lays down that unless and otherwise agreed by the parties, the arbitral proceedings in respect of a particular dispute commence on the date on which a request for that dispute to be referred to arbitration is received by respondent; Y. Parthsarthy v. G.M., Railway Electrification, Allahabad, 1997 (2) Arb LR 347.
     

    22. Language.—

    (1) The parties are free to agree upon the language or languages to be used in the arbitral proceedings.

    (2) Failing any agreement referred to in sub-section (1), the arbitral tribunal shall determine the language or languages to be used in the arbitral proceedings.

    (3) The agreement or determination, unless otherwise specified, shall apply to any written statement by a party, any hearing and any arbitral award, decision or other communication by the arbitral tribunal.

    (4) The arbitral tribunal may order that any documentary evidence shall be accompanied by a translation into the language or languages agreed upon by the parties or determined by the arbitral tribunal.
     

    23. Statement of claim and defence.—

    (1) Within the period of time agreed upon by the parties or determined by the arbitral tribunal, the claimant shall state the facts supporting his claim, the points at issue and the relief or remedy sought, and the respondent shall state his defence in respect of these particulars, unless the parties have otherwise agreed as to the required elements of those statements.

    (2) The parties may submit with their statements all documents they consider to be relevant or may add a reference to the documents or other evidence they will submit.

    (3) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, either party may amend or supplement his claim or defence during the course of the arbitral proceedings, unless the arbitral tribunal considers it inappropriate to allow the amendment or supplement having regard to the delay in making it.
     

    24. Hearings and written proceedings.—

    (1) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the arbitral tribunal shall decide whether to hold oral hearings for the presentation of evidence or for oral argument, or whether the proceedings shall be conducted on the basis of documents and other materials:

    Provided that the arbitral tribunal shall hold oral hearings, at an appropriate stage of the proceedings, on a request by a party, unless the parties have agreed that no oral hearing shall be held.

    (2) The parties shall be given sufficient advance notice of any hearing and of any meeting of the arbitral tribunal for the purposes of inspection of documents, goods or other property.

    (3) All statements, documents or other information supplied to, or applications made to the arbitral tribunal by one party shall be communicated to the other party, and any expert report or evidentiary document on which the arbitral tribunal may rely in making its decision shall be communicated to the parties.
     

    25. Default of a party.—

    Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, where, without showing sufficient cause,—

    (a) the claimant fails to communicate his statement of claim in accordance with sub-section (1) of section 23, the arbitral tribunal shall terminate the proceedings;

    (b) the respondent fails to communicate his statement of defence in accordance with sub-section (1) of section 23, the arbitral tribunal shall continue the proceedings without treating that failure in itself as an admission of the allegations by the claimant;

    (c) a party fails to appear at an oral hearing or to produce documentary evidence, the arbitral tribunal may continue the proceedings and make the arbitral award on the evidence before it.
     

    26. Expert appointment by arbitral tribunal.—

    (1) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the arbitral tribunal may—

    (a) appoint one or more experts to report to it on specific issues to be determined by the arbitral tribunal, and

    (b) require a party to give the expert any relevant information or to produce, or to provide access to, any relevant documents, goods or other property for his inspection.

    (2) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, if a party so requests or if the arbitral tribunal considers it necessary, the expert shall, after delivery of his written or oral report, participate in an oral hearing where the parties have the opportunity to put questions to him and to present expert witnesses in order to testify on the points at issue.

    (3) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the expert shall, on the request of a party, make available to that party for examination all documents, goods or other property in the possession of the expert with which he was provided in order to prepare his report.

     

    27. Court assistance in taking evidence.—

    (1) The arbitral tribunal, or a party with the approval of the arbitral tribunal, may apply to the Court for assistance in taking evidence.

    (2) The application shall specify—

    (a) the names and addresses of the parties and the arbitrators;

    (b) the general nature of the claim and the relief sought;

    (c) the evidence to be obtained, in particular,—

    (i) the name and address of any person to be heard as witness or expert witness and a statement of the subject-matter of the testimony required;

    (ii) the description of any document to be produced or property to be inspected.

    (3) The Court may, within its competence and according to its rules on taking evidence, execute the request by ordering that the evidence be provided directly to the arbitral tribunal.

    (4) The Court may, while making an order under sub-section (3), issue the same processes to witnesses as it may issue in suits tried before it.

    (5) Persons failing to attend in accordance with such process, or making any other default, or refusing to give their evidence, or guilty of any contempt to the arbitral tribunal during the conduct of arbitral proceedings, shall be subject to the like disadvantages, penalties and punishments by order of the Court on the representation of the arbitral tribunal as they would incur for the like offences in suits tried before the Court.

    (6) In this section the expression “Processes” includes summonses and commissions for the examination of witnesses and summonses to produce documents.
     

    28. Rules applicable to substance of dispute.—

    (1) Where the place of arbitration is situate in India,—

    (a) in an arbitration other than an international commercial arbitration, the arbitral tribunal shall decide the dispute submitted to arbitration in accordance with the substantive law for the time being in force in India;

    (b) in international commercial arbitration,—

    (i) the arbitral tribunal shall decide the dispute in accordance with the rules of law designated by the parties as applicable to the substance of the dispute;

    (ii) any designation by the parties of the law or legal system of a given country shall be construed, unless otherwise expressed, as directly referring to the substantive law of that country and not to its conflict of laws rules;

    (iii) failing any designation of the law under clause (a) by the parties, the arbitral tribunal shall apply the rules of law it considers to be appropriate given all the circumstances surrounding the dispute.

    (2) The arbitral tribunal shall decide ex aequo et bono or as amiable compositeur only if the parties have expressly authorised it to do so.

    (3) In all cases, the arbitral tribunal shall decide in accordance with the terms of the contract and shall take into account the usages of the trade applicable to the transaction.
     

    29. Decision making by panel of arbitrators.—

    (1) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, in arbitral proceedings with more than one arbitrator, any decision of the arbitral tribunal shall be made by a majority of all its members.

    (2) Notwithstanding sub-section (1), if authorised by the parties or all the members of the arbitral tribunal, questions of procedure may be decided by the presiding arbitrator.

    Comments

    Power to award interest

    Where the arbitrator has awarded interest from the date of the award till the date of payment, disallow interest from the date of the decree or determine a different rate at which the interest is to be paid or confirm the grant of interest as awarded in the award. In the instant case, the arbitrator is entitled to grant pre-reference, pendente lite and future interest, however, the claimant did not claim any pre-reference interest in proceedings before the arbitrator in the present facts and circumstances could not have granted interest from the date the arbitrator entered upon the reference by sending notice to the claimant and respondent on 26-4-1991 to the date of award at the rate of 15% p.a. on the amounts awarded; State of Orissa v. B.N. Agarwal, AIR 1997 SC 925.
     

    30. Settlement.—

    (1) It is not incompatible with an arbitration agreement for an arbitral tribunal to encourage settlement of the dispute and, with the agreement of the parties, the arbitral tribunal may use mediation, conciliation or other procedures at any time during the arbitral proceedings to encourage settlement.

    (2) If, during arbitral proceedings, the parties settle the dispute, the arbitral tribunal shall terminate the proceedings and, if requested by the parties and not objected to by the arbitral tribunal, record the settlement in the form of an arbitral award on agreed terms.

    (3) An arbitral award on agreed terms shall be made in accordance with section 31 and shall state that it is an arbitral award.

    (4) An arbitral award on agreed terms shall have the same status and effect as any other arbitral award on the substance of the dispute.

    Comments

    Settlement

    When the arbitrator, having been invested with the jurisdiction to decide the arbitrability of certain claims has committed error of jurisdiction in not considering the arbitrability of the claims and passed a non-speaking award granting certain lump sum amount, it is difficult to give acceptance to the award made by the umpire; Tamil Nadu Electricity Board v. Bridg
     

    31. Form and contents of arbitral award.—

    (1) An arbitral award shall be made in writing and shall be signed by the members of the arbitral tribunal.

    (2) For the purposes of sub-section (1), in arbitral proceedings with more than one arbitrator, the signatures of the majority of all the members of the arbitral tribunal shall be sufficient so long as the reason for any omitted signature is stated.

    (3) The arbitral award shall state the reasons upon which it is based, unless—

    (a) the parties have agreed that no reasons are to be given, or

    (b) the award is an arbitral award on agreed terms under section 30.

     

    These guides are not legal advice, nor a substitute for a lawyer

    These articles are provided freely as general guides. While we do our best to make sure these guides are helpful, we do not give any guarantee that they are accurate or appropriate to your situation, or take any responsibility for any loss their use might cause you. Do not rely on information provided here without seeking experienced legal advice first. If in doubt, please always consult a lawyer.

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