A virtual panel discussion was organized by the Council of EU India Chambers of Commerce in India in association with Kochhar & Co. on the topic Arbitration in Post Covid World Charting the Path Ahead.
Eminent panelists were Justice F.I. Rebello, Former Chief Justice of Allahabad High Court; Mr. Fredun Vitre, Senior Counsel Bombay High Court; Mr. Nilanjan Sinha Head- Legal, India and South East Asia ICICI Bank; Mr. Rajshri Chakrabarti, Senior Resident Partner Kochhar and Co. moderated the session.
Justice Rebello commented upon pending cases of Arbitration stating international arbitration won’t be affected a lot, parties sit all across globe with video conferencing. Arbitration by video, nor do judges, lawyers, arbitrators don’t have to travel to places and how it will bring down cost of arbitration. Mr. Vitre commented Covid 19 can result in positive result on arbitration as various stages of arbitration, where initial stages and end stage of argument be conducted on virtual platform but in between stage of recording has its peculiarities has to be physical or hybrid of digitalization and physical documentation. Mr. Sinha being dealing with legal and financial aspects shared his view how for large complex financial contracts for example derivatives, arbitration is necessary. Right judgment and arbitration is even important from a country perspective if a country becomes low rated country. Justice Rebello informed for the present times in India 80% of adhoc arbitration and only 20% institutional arbitration. Rules are based on international standards. Mr. Sinha envisaged we have necessary degree of framework and infrastructure is available, problem is we don’t decide procedure, we just decide number of arbitrators, we tend to mimic, and people don’t like to adopt changes. This is the opportunity for adoption and likewise happened in Stockholm we should also open doors to use facilities. Upon asked what the way forward is if one party is not agreeing for virtual hearing, Justice Rebello said there are sometimes people who like to delay, but parties are facing practical difficulties during Covid, but otherwise there should be no issues for virtual arbitration. On questioned upon is the role of courts diminishing with arbitration moving to virtual platforms, Mr. Vitre pointed out that court interventions are important and helpful, in the initial stage of arbitration section 11 and section 9, court interventions will help arbitration. The problem arises in conduct of actual arbitration, regarding to technological issues pertaining to virtual platforms. Panel discussion was essentially positive about future of arbitration in India as in India there is resurgence in awareness that arbitration can be effective way of dispute resolution but we need system to be going as we have physical infrastructure in place. Panel discussion ended with a public Q and A round.