April 25, 2020
COVID-19 has brought the use of technology into the system, ensuring speedy, cost-effective justice which goes a long way and becomes a permanent feature of the Indian system, Justice A K Sikri, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India and International Arbitrator
COVID-19 has caused a lot of disruptions in the country but at the same time it has also given a boost to the online technology in the areas of education, medicine, etc. and in the same lines, Online Dispute Resolution as received unprecedented interest in the country. Therefore, the next new normal in law and dispute resolution will be Online Dispute Resolution (ODR). To understand the opportunities and way forward, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industries, conducted an interactive Webinar session on COVID-19 Arbitration, Mediation and Online Dispute Resolution (ODR): Opportunities and Way Forward with Justice A K Sikri, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India, International Arbitrator and Justice K Kannan, Former Judge, Punjab, and Haryana High Court, International Mediator on 24th April 2020.
The webinar witnessed extensive participation of 500 industry players and senior members of PHD Chamber from all over the country.
Justice A K Sikri, Former Judge, Supreme Court of India and International Arbitrator, appreciated the efforts of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry to organize an interactive webinar on such a significant topic in these pivotal times.
While deliberating about the Position of online arbitration in pre – COVID time, Justice A K Sikri said that in India, online arbitration is very limited. Physical presence has always been preferred in our country.
Internationally, many arbitrations have been done and no physical hearing is necessary in some parts of the world. The same sets of procedures in India are followed until the end as compared to international practices, there can be diversions according to the scenario arising in the matters, said A K Sikri.
Talking about the changes that have been brought during the COVID times in terms of online ADR, its situation in the present and future, Justice A K Sikri said that it’s a good opportunity to adopt the system of online proceedings. While the International arbitration institutions have issued respective guidelines to be followed, India is lacking behind and needs to advance itself. In India, to make the Online Dispute Resolution to grow, addressing these issues is a must that the parties have equal say in the proceedings, the witness is not tutored or influenced, protection of Data is in place, and authenticity of documents should be there.
COVID-19 has brought the use of technology into the system, ensuring speedy, cost-effective justice which goes a long way and becomes a permanent feature of the Indian system, said Justice A K Sikri.
Justice A K Sikri said that there are several judgments and there is no problem in domestic arbitration as section 20 of the arbitration and conciliation act takes care of this situation. For international arbitration, it is important to determine which law will apply and which courts will have jurisdiction and it is a dicey situation and the arbitration clause in the agreement and the mindset of the judges, arbitrators, and advocates, all will play a major role. In India there is an urgent need of an internationally recognized arbitration institution and the government has ensured but nothing as of now has been done in that context.
He suggested PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industries to join hands with other chambers of commerce and work towards the establishment of an Arbitration institution which is of international repute and the same to lay down proper rules for domestic and international arbitration.
Justice K Kannan, Former Judge, Punjab, and Haryana High Court, International Mediator thanked PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry for organizing such an informative session which will help to give insights about Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) which is growing in the legal systems.
Mediation is the only way to ensure true justice in the current scenario. It has become really important with matters related to wage payment, rent issues, etc. where the role of mediation comes to arrive at a negotiable conclusion, where all parties will take away something for itself. In the issue of right and wrong, the court is generally considered strict and Mediation ensures the best way to solve the difference. There is a need to look into how other than referring new cases to come to mediation, it is also very important to think of how the burden-shifting of 3.5 crore pending cases before the courts in India can be done. Mediation looks beyond to other ways rather than just stick to what is wrong or right and this lockdown situation is the best time to initiate the change, said Justice K Kannan.
Deliberating about the need for standalone legislation for mediation Justice K Kannan said it will certainly bring enforceability as far as the settlement of issues is concerned. Currently, the conciliated awards are enforceable like Bar Council, there should be Mediators Council which will draft rules, code of conduct and will ensure compliance and will improve prospects of mediation.
The mediation will also play a major role in matters related to Force Majeure Clause and Frustration of Contract, said Justice K Kannan.
The other prominent speakers who deliberation on COVID-19 Arbitration, Mediation, and Online Dispute Resolution (ODR): Opportunities and Way Forward was Mr. Kirit S Javali, Partner Dispute Resolution, Jafa and Javali, Advocates and Member Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Cell, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry and Mr. Ben Giaretta, Partner- Dispute Resolution, Mishon De Reya, International Arbitrator, and Mediators and among others.
Dr. D K Aggarwal President, PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry appreciated the government for their proactive active measures that they have taken to combat the spread of COVID-19 and also apprised them that the members of PHD Chamber have generously made a contribution of Rs 525 Crores to the PM CARES Fund apart from distributing lakhs of food packets, sanitizers, masks, and other personal protective equipment and we will continue to give back to the society and are in full support in all endeavors of the government.
Dr. D K Aggarwal commented that on 23rd March 2020 the Supreme Court of India created history by conducting the court’s hearing through video conference and on 31st March 2020, the Kerala High Court carried out the court’s hearing through video conference and 30 cases were taken up and disposed of. The Indian judiciary system is witnessing a shift from Litigation to Arbitration and Mediation and in the current scenario to Online Dispute Resolution (ODR).
Ms. Priya Hingorani, Chairperson, Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Cell of PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Senior Advocate, Supreme Court of India introduced delivered a vote of thanks to all the speakers and participants in the webinar.
The webinar was moderated by Ms. Lalit Mohini Bhat, advocate and mediator, member of Arbitration and Dispute resolution cell, PHD Chamber of Industry and Commerce and member, CIArb, and Dr. Jatinder Singh, Director, PHD Chamber. The webinar was attended by many senior PHD members and industry stalwarts.
PHD Chamber of Commerce and Industry