On 8th June, 2023 the International Arbitration and Mediation Centre, Hyderabad, and White & Case Offices, London, successfully organized a thought-provoking panel discussion on the topic of “Arbitration in India: From Challenges to Opportunities – A Roadmap to 2030” at London White & Case Offices. The event brought together esteemed practitioners from the United Kingdom and India to share their insights on the current state and future prospects of arbitration in India.
Mr. Dipen Sabharwal, KC (Partner, White & Case) delivered the opening remarks and extended a warm welcome to the distinguished panelists: Mr. Hiroo Advani, Mr. Tejas Karia, Ms. Karishma Vohra, and Ms. Swati Tripathi and Mr. Tariq Khan who was the moderator for the session. The panel discussion covered a wide range of critical topics and viewpoints related to arbitration in India.
Mr. Hiroo Advani (Partner, Advani Law, India) explored the complex issue of whether non-signatories can become parties to arbitration. He discussed the current state of arbitration in India and the ongoing efforts to establish India as a hub of arbitration. Mr. Advani examined different international approaches, such as the French, UK, USA, and Canada, and provided insights into the application of the doctrine in award enforcement cases. He emphasized the economic necessity and financial beneficiaries of contracts, advocating for an acceptable approach to the group country doctrine.
Mr. Tejas Karia (Partner Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas & Co, India) shed light on the issue of inadequate stamping of arbitration agreements, highlighting the conflicting perspectives prevailing in different courts. He emphasized that while unstamped documents can be considered a curable defect, their impact on the appointment of arbitrators and the reserved sub-matters needs careful attention.
Ms. Swati Tripathi (Partner, White & Case) drew attention to the importance of diversity, including age, gender, and geographic representation, in arbitral appointments. Referring to research by McKenzie and the need for a diversity lens, she stressed that appointing the same set of tribunal members can lead to poor decision-making, decreased legitimacy, and bias. Ms. Tripathi called for increased efforts to enhance gender and geographic diversity in arbitral appointments to ensure fair and balanced outcomes.
Ms. Karishma Vohra (Barrister, 39 Essex Chambers) provided valuable insights into the role of technology as a game-changer in international arbitration. She emphasized the need for a level playing field in terms of cost-effectiveness and cited examples such as the use of AI for mediation in Australian courts, which resulted in judgments matching those of the court 85% of the time. Additionally, she highlighted the significance of smart contracts in the international perspective, particularly in French courts.
The session concluded with Mr. Tariq Khan, the moderator, highlighting the importance of a change in mindset and the need for geographical diversity as well as age diversity in arbitral appointments.
The event was followed by networking drinks.