Thursday, August 25, 2011


I am currently taking a break from drafting my written submission for the arbitration round of our intra-moot court competition, and I thought I would reflect on arbitration itself and the subject matter of arbitration.
Alternative Dispute Resolution has been around for a long time, but was viewed suspiciously, as the Courts were always accorded more respect than an arbitral tribunal. Moreover, awards by an abritral tribunal would still have to be enforced by a court, so wouldn't it be better to approach the Court?
It was only with the explosion of international commerce that the speedier method of dispute resolution, i.e. arbitration, became favoured over the long winded process of adjudication by Courts. Plus, with the international nature of transactions taking place, a multiplicity of jurisdictions and a multiplicity of applicable laws made parties more keen on having a single forum with a single substantive law being used to adjudicate disputes. With the emergence of the CISG and other conventions such as the New York Convention, international commercial arbitration rose in prominence, and today, the practice of arbitration finds many takers worldwide.
I became really interested in arbitration after reading the most authoritative text on the subject, a book called "International Commercial Arbitration" by Redfern and Hunter. What I love about the book is how lucidly it explains the concepts, and the various references and analogies it makes. I found references to paintings, poems, children's stories etc in the book, written tongue firmly in cheek. Inspite of its easygoing writing style, the authors are renowned authorities on the subject. In one part, I found a case cited by the authors, where learned Justice Steyn comments on observations made in an authoritative text, which turned out to be an earlier edition of the very same book!
Arbitration is easier, more informal and as efficacious as the municipal Courts. If only the courts in our country were less keen on interfering with disputes referred to arbitration, perhaps dispute settlement in India would not take so long!


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