The Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2019 (2019 Amendment Act), as a bill, was passed by the lower house of Parliament (Lok Sabha) on 1 August 2019and passed by the upper house of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) on 18 July 2019. Soon after, on 9 August 2019, the 2019 Amendment Act received the assent of the President and was published as Act No. 33 of 2019. Thereafter, certain sections of the 2019 Amendment Act were notified on 30 August 2019.
The 2019 Amendment Act has been one of the most awaited and commented legislation amendments in recent times, dividing opinions alike since it was first tabled in Lok Sabha on 10 August 2018. However, its passing was delayed due to the lapse of the 16th session of the Lok Sabha.
The 2019 Amendment Act encapsulates various recommendations made by the High Level Committee (Committee) formed under the Chairmanship of Justice B N Srikrishna, Retired Judge, Supreme Court of India which submitted its Report on 30 July 2017. The Committee was constituted by the Central Government in order to eliminate some challenges/ difficulties with respect to the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act 2015 (“2015 Amendment Act”) and rationalize institutional arbitration vis-a-vis ad hoc arbitration.
The 2019 Amendment Act further addresses measures to make the arbitration procedure more robust and friendly, with a clear emphasis to address the ease of doing business ranking, as well as making India a hub for international commercial arbitrations. The 2019 Amendment Act also aims on streamlining and encouraging institutional arbitration by establishing an independent body and promoting ADR in India as detailed subsequently in this article. Perhaps the biggest takeaway of the 2019 Amendment Act is that it is a move towards institutionalising arbitration in India.