India’s international commercial arbitration system has undergone substantial changes over the past decade with India’s sudden emergence as a global economic power. The Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996 was enacted in response to address extreme latency in the court system, attract foreign direct investment, and to establish India as a viable forum for international commercial arbitration. While the enactment of the 1996 Act has proven largely successful on these fronts, significant problems remain in providing interim measures of protection, enforcing and challenging arbitral awards, defining arbitral subject-matter, challenging and removing biased arbitrators. Not coincidentally, tensions remain greatest in areas which depart from United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Model Law. An underlying issue throughout arbitration reform is the extent of the involvement of the Indian judiciary which threatens the very autonomy that the 1996 Act sought to usher forward. The author concludes that the Indian arbitration movement should adhere as closely as possible to the mandates of UNCITRAL Model Law in order to establish predictability into a system that has long been without it.
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