The Indian Government looks at how to institutionalise arbitration in the subcontinent
In 2002, the Indian Supreme Court decided, in Bhatia International v Bulk Trading SA ('Bhatia') that Indian courts had exclusive jurisdiction to test the validity of an arbitral award made in India even when the proper law of the contract was the law of another country. The court interpreted section 2 of the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 (the 'Act') to mean that Part I of the Act applied even to arbitrations seated outside India, thereby giving the Indian courts broad scope to intervene in foreign arbitrations. This was widely regarded as a low point for arbitration in India. Fast forward to January 2017 and the Indian Government is trying to promote India as an arbitration hub, and its courts are generally seen to be taking a pro-arbitration stance. India is now clearly focused on becoming an attractive jurisdiction for foreign investment. Hand in hand with this, its legislators and courts are taking steps to make India an arbitration-friendly jurisdiction. This article explores some of the key steps along the road of India's transformation, 15 years on from Bhatia.