Two new Ordinances – Commercial Courts Ordinance, and amendment to Arbitration & Conciliation Act
Anuj Agrawal & Aditya AK
Less than a month before the winter session of Parliament is set to begin, the President of India promulgated two Ordinances with far-reaching implications for commercial law.
Yesterday, the Arbitration and Conciliation Amendment Ordinance, and the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Ordinance were promulgated.
Once the Winter Session starts, the government will have to obtain the Parliament’s assent for the ordinances within 42 days, failing which they will lapse.
The Arbitration Ordinance aims to increase the ease of doing business in India for foreign investors. To this end, the Centre had attempted to pass the Ordinance last December; however, it failed to receive Presidential assent. According to the same report, the government then planned to introduce an amendment Bill in Parliament, which never saw the light of day. It has since reverted to the Ordinance route.
Among the changes the Ordinance brings is the insertion of a new Section 29A, which fixes a time limit of 12 months for conclusion of proceedings. However, provided the parties have “suffcient cause” and as per conditions laid down by the court, the period may be extended to a maximum of 6 months.
An amendment to Section 11 aims to fix the fees of arbitrators, as prescribed by the High Court.
The commercial court ordinance is largely based on the recommendations of the Law Commission of India. Under the stewardship of Justice AP Shah, the LCI had suggested a major overhaul of the judicial infrastructure vis-a-vis commercial litigation.
Prior to the reference to the Law Commission, a Bill to create commercial benches in some high courts was pending in Parliament and was sent to a Rajya Sabha Select Committee during the UPA’s tenure. Later, the same Bill was sent to a Standing Committee on Law and Personnel, which has to submit its report by November 30.
Read full text of the ordinances is below.
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