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ICA Conference in Goa Strengthens India’s Global Arbitration Position, Explores Innovative Dispute Resolution Methods

Goa, 28rd March 2024:In aconcerted effort to enhance access to justice in commercial disputes through arbitration and mediation, the Indian Council of Arbitration (ICA)organizeda conference on”Ease to Justice Through Arbitration & Mediation in Commercial Disputes” at JW Marriott Vagator, Goa. 

 

The event, which solidified India’s position as a frontrunner in global arbitration, brought together leading experts, policymakers, and industry stakeholders.It featured two technical sessions, each addressing pivotal aspects of dispute resolution in today’s dynamic business landscape. The first session, “Evolving Landscape of Dispute Resolution & Effective Use of Technology in ADR Mechanism,” explored how technology is reshaping arbitration and mediation processes to be more efficient, transparent, and accessible. Concurrently, the second session, “Holistic Dispute Resolution: MED-ARB or ARB-MED-ARB,” delved into innovative approaches such as MED-ARB and ARB-MED-ARB, offering comprehensive and sustainable solutions for commercial disputes. 

 

The keynote address by Hon’ble Justice Hima Kohli, Judge, Supreme Court of India, offered profound insights into India’s dynamic approach towards ADR and the nation’s commitment to becoming a global arbitration hub.  She said,“The journey towards a more just and efficient legal framework is paved with the adoption of ADR mechanisms. By fostering a legal culture that prioritizes resolution over contention, we empower individuals and businesses alike to seek solutions that are not just legally sound but also equitable and sustainable. This shift towards ADR signifies a broader movement towards a legal system that values dialogue and collaboration, marking a significant departure from the win-lose paradigms of the past.”

 

Furthermore, citing data from the National Legal Services Authority, Justice Kohli highlights India’s strides in ADR with 464 ADR centers, 397 operational, 570 mediation centers, over 16,565 mediators, and the Mediation Act 2023. These affirm India’s commitment to efficient dispute resolution, bolstering its status as a premier destination for arbitration and mediation.

 

Speaking about the transformative potential of ADR during his special address, Hon’ble Justice Mahesh Sharadchandra Sonak, Judge High Court of Bombay at Goasaid, “The journey towards a more just and efficient legal framework is paved with the adoption of ADR mechanisms. These not only offer a reprieve from the adversarial nature of traditional litigation but also imbue the legal process with a sense of empathy and understanding. By fostering a legal culture that prioritizes resolution over contention, we empower individuals and businesses alike to seek solutions that are not just legally sound but also equitable and sustainable.”

 

He further highlights India’s position in the latest World Bank report on ease of doing business, stressing the need for improving contract enforcement procedures, advocating effective ADR mechanisms like conciliation, mediation, and arbitration, along with exploring hybrid models such as Med-Arb to expedite dispute resolution. He stated “This shift towards ADR signifies a broader movement towards a legal system that values dialogue and collaboration, marking a significant departure from the win-lose paradigms of the past. In doing so, we advocate a form of justice that is not only accessible but also reflective of the society we aspire to create.”

 

During his welcome address, N G Khaitan, President, ICA & Senior Partner, Khaitan & Co., emphasized the necessity of establishing certainty within our legal framework, cautioning against the potential uncertainties resulting from frequent amendments. He stressed the critical importance of specialized training, stating that “Training and specialization are essential for advancing arbitration as a reputable profession.”He also emphasized the need for urgent attention to pressing matters such as amendments to the documentation act and the promotion of institutional arbitration by third parties. Expressing optimism, he remarked that “addressing these issues will yield positive outcomes, ultimately leading to a legal system where the judiciary refrains from interfering in arbitration, thereby ensuring a life of ease and happiness for all.”

 

In his opening remarks at the conference, Arun Chawla, Director General, ICA, emphasized the critical role of efficient dispute resolution in India’s evolving economic landscape, stating, “As India’s economy becomes increasingly interconnected with the rest of the world and exhibits dynamic growth, the demand for efficient and swift resolution of disputes has never been more critical. With India poised to become the most preferred destination for dispute resolution, our aim is to not only resolve disputes but also foster a culture of conflict avoidance and timely resolution. It is our collective responsibility to foster an ecosystem where justice is not only accessible but also timely and cost-effective. By integrating Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods such as arbitration and mediation into our judicial framework, we not only expedite the resolution process but also alleviate the burden on our courts, ensuring that economic transactions are not hindered by prolonged disputes. In doing so, we bolster economic prosperity while reinforcing the pillars of fairness and efficiency in our legal system.”

 

Marking a significant step towards promoting collaboration and advancing arbitration and mediation in the region, ICA also signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the High Court Bar Association and Goa Chambers of Commerce.

 

Speaking on Goa’s legal landscape, J. E. Coelho Pereira, Senior Advocate and President, Goa High Court Bar Association, said, “In light of the increasing demand for commercial arbitration in Goa, the necessity for skilled arbitrators is more evident than ever. This collaboration with ICA underscores our commitment to cultivating a more robust arbitration framework in our region.”

 

Expressing her gratitude, Geeta Luthra, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India & Vice President of ICA, noted, “The recent decision by the Supreme Court regarding the unstamped agreement showcases India’s ambitious journey toward becoming a global hub for swiftly resolving commercial disputes.”  She lauded the courts’ vigor in arbitration matters and emphasized the importance of empowering young lawyers through targeted training programs. She further supported the initiative, recognizing its contribution to the progress of arbitration and mediation in India and reinforcing the nation’s position as an international leader in dispute resolution.

 

The event was also graced by the presence of esteemed dignitaries and panelists including, Mohit Saraf, Founder & Partner Saraf & Partners, Priya Hingorani, Senior Advocate Supreme Court of India, Gaurish Agni, Advocate, & Secretary, Goa High Court Bar Association,Carlos Alvares Ferreira, Advocate & Hon’ble Member of the Goa LegislativeAssembly, Goa, Pinky Anand, Senior Advocate Supreme Court of India & Former AdditionalSolicitor General of India, Tejas Karia Partner & Head of Arbitration, Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, Ganesh Chandru, Partner Dispute Resolution, Dua Associates and Mumtaz Bhalla, Partner, Economic Laws Practice (ELP) Advocates & Solicitors.

 

By exploring innovative approaches and leveraging technology, the conference paved the way for a more accessible, equitable, and sustainable justice system for businesses worldwide. 

 

About Indian Council of Arbitration:

 

The ICA was established in 1965 as a specialized arbitral body at the national level under the initiatives of the Govt. of India and apex business organizations like FICCI etc. Based in New Delhi, the main objective of ICA is to promote amicable, quick and inexpensive settlement of commercial disputes by means of arbitration, conciliation, regardless of location. Today, ICA is not only the leading arbitral institution in India, it is one of the most important arbitration centres in Asia Pacific, handling more than 400 domestic and international arbitration cases each year. It also provides the commercial world with an unrivalled and time-tested Maritime Arbitration services and imparts education and training in alternative dispute resolution mechanisms. Coupled with our quality case administration and panel of arbitrators, ICA is the one resource for all your dispute resolution needs.

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