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Fast Track Procedure for Arbitration


Fast Track Procedure
Fast Track Procedure

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Fast Track Procedure


The 2015 Amendment to the 1996 Arbitration Act introduced a fast track procedure under Section 29-B, providing parties with the option to expedite dispute resolution. This procedure allows parties to waive oral hearings and have their disputes decided based solely on written pleadings and evidence. 



Additionally, parties may opt for adjudication by a sole arbitrator to streamline the arbitration process, as convening hearings before a three-member tribunal can be challenging.



Under Section 29-B, parties must submit written pleadings and documents, and the arbitral tribunal may request further documentation if necessary. The tribunal is required to issue the arbitral award within six months from the commencement of the reference, ensuring a timely resolution of disputes.



Even if parties do not opt for the fast track procedure, Section 29A(2) incentivizes quicker dispute resolution by allowing the arbitral tribunal to receive additional fees as agreed upon by the parties.

 
 

Key Provisions of Section 29-B


  1. Agreement for Fast Track Procedure: Parties may agree in writing to resolve their dispute using the fast track procedure either before or at the time of appointing the arbitral tribunal.



  1. Procedure for Fast Track Arbitration:

  • The arbitral tribunal decides the dispute based on written pleadings, documents, and submissions without oral hearings unless requested by all parties or deemed necessary by the tribunal.



  1. Timeframe for Award: The arbitral award must be issued within six months from the date the tribunal begins the reference.

  2. Fallback Provision: If the award is not issued within the specified timeframe, the provisions of Section 29A(3)-(9) apply.

  3. Fees: Parties and the arbitrator determine the fees payable to the arbitrator and the payment method.


Expedited Procedure 


The expedited procedure introduced under Section 29B of the 1996 Arbitration Act offers parties an avenue for swift resolution of disputes.



However, despite the statutory 12-month timeline established by the 2015 Amendment, the adoption of the fast track procedure remains infrequent in practice.



Before the 2015 Amendment, there were no specified timelines for concluding arbitral proceedings in India, contributing to the inefficiency of the alternative dispute resolution system.



The introduction of the 12-month timeline was a significant step towards addressing this issue. However, it takes time for parties to adapt to these new statutory requirements.



As a result, the fast track procedure outlined in Section 29B is still rarely utilised in practice. Parties may be hesitant to forgo oral hearings and rely solely on written submissions, especially in complex or high-stakes disputes where they may prefer the opportunity to present their case orally.



Additionally, the arbitral tribunal may also be cautious about dispensing with oral hearings, as they may consider them necessary for fully understanding the issues and ensuring a fair resolution.



Despite its limited use, the fast track procedure remains an important option for parties seeking expedited resolution of their disputes.


As parties become more accustomed to the statutory timelines and the benefits of efficient dispute resolution, the adoption of fast track procedures may increase over time, contributing to the overall effectiveness of arbitration in India.

 
 

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