On November 27, 2022, The International Arbitration Mediation Centre, Hyderabad organized a discussion on “Hyderabad as an Emerging Hub of Institutional Arbitration”. The event witnessed one of the leading arbitrators in the world Mr. Toby Landau KC as the special guest, Mr. D. Krishna Bhaskar, Director of Industries, Telangana, Dr. Ramesh Datla, Chairman Elico and former Chairperson CII Southern Region, Mr. Suadat Ahmad Kirmani, Advocate, Tatva Legal, Hyderabad and Mr. Tariq Khan, Advocate and Registrar IAMC as the panelists. The event was attended by Hon’ble Judges of the High Court of Telangana, judicial member from the NCLT, prominent members from the Confederation of Indian Industry, senior officials from the Department of Industries, General Counsel from various organizations, law firm partners amongst others.
Mr. Romit Sarkar, associate counsel from IAMC delivered the welcome address to the guests.
In his opening remarks, Mr. Toby Landau noted that he was delighted to be in Hyderabad for the first time and said that he was most pleased to lend his name and support to such a promising state-of-the-art centre in Hyderabad.
Responding to a question he noted that arbitration centers around the world come and go and this is a competitive field with many provinces and cities in different countries that are busy establishing dispute resolution centers and very few of them in the long term actually succeed and newcomers find it quite difficult to break into an established market. He said that the key is to have a dispute resolution ecosystem which requires a number of factors to come together with each element being dependent on each other. The first being arbitration law that is robust and trusted which he said is present in India. The second is a supportive court structure that supports the arbitration process including the awareness of judges to modern international best practices. However, there is sometimes a reluctance to judicial education.
Additionally, the institution needs to have state-of-the-art rules which are amended from time to time as best practices continue to evolve. The institution must be run by a secretariat which is connected to other elements of the arbitration environment around the world i.e., practitioners abroad, arbitrators and have a panel of arbitrators who are not too local and insular. In a lighter vein, he said it is necessary to have Arbitrators who are not affected by Judgejitis – A condition that renders one unable to see disputes from beyond a judge’s lens. He highlighted that arbitrators have to see things differently from judges and that there is a pressing need to have an arbitration bar as there is a difference in being a counsel in litigation and a counsel in arbitration.
He also pointed out that one thing people give a lot of importance to but is not so important is the physical infrastructure. Training and constant learning and supporting student initiatives are of far greater significance.
Mr. Toby Landau also reflected on the differences between common law and civil law traditions, noting how the ideal arbitrator practices what is called ‘hands on case management’, drawing from the inquisitorial system rather than the neutral umpire who stands above the fray and relies on counsels to be informed as to what the matter is in an adversarial set up. He said that arbitrators should understand what a particular dispute requires, and the tribunal needs to put in the work and roll up their sleeves.
He suggested that industries move towards institutional arbitration to save costs and avoid getting into elaborate proceedings and focus on the critical issue in dispute. Also, he emphasized early dispute resolution which is a way to avoid disputes reaching a stage where there is no easy resolution.
He further elaborated on the disadvantages of ad hoc arbitration and how it is a long, costly, and inefficient procedure due to lack of competence. He said that arbitration is supposed to be an efficient procedure and therefore, there is a definite need for bringing in modern changes in the approach of counsels and arbitrators. He emphasized the need to put an end to auto piloting an arbitration proceeding.
The director of industries Shri D Krishna Bhaskar discussed the difficulties faced by micro and small enterprises in recovering their pending payments and the importance of arbitration in resolving such disputes in a timebound manner. He touched upon the usual issues faced by MSME’s and how they do not have sufficient liquidity. He mentioned about the steps being taken by the Govt to help the MSMEs in resolving their disputes and various trainings conducted for officers dealing with MSME cases.
Dr. Ramesh Datla shared his experiences as the representative from the industry and the expectations from institutions such as IAMC to cater to the needs of businesses. He said that awareness programmes are much needed to familiarize the users with the benefits of institutional arbitration. He also said that the industry only looks for a cost effective and expeditious mode of dispute resolution.
Mr. Suadat Ahmad Kirmani talked about his experience with institutional arbitrations and how it made the whole process very smooth and efficient. He said that as a matter of practice he prefers advising his clients to incorporate institutional arbitration clauses. He also pointed out that arbitration should any day be preferred over protracted litigation, especially in commercial disputes. However, it is important that the institution gains the confidence of the stakeholders.
Mr. Tariq Khan said that there is a need for full-time arbitration practitioners and arbitrators. Further, such practitioners may also be considered for Senior designation as well as elevation to the bench just like in developed jurisdictions. He also highlighted various reasons why Hyderabad truly deserves to be a hub of institutional arbitration as it has already emerged as a hub of investment.
Thereafter, the panelists released Mr. Tariq Khan’ s book titled Everything You Need to Know About Arbitration In India which was followed by a candid fireside chat with Toby Landau moderated by Suadat Ahmad Kirmani.
The event was supported by Tatva Legal Hyderabad.