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International Arbitration: A leading destination for India



  1. Introduction
  2. Importance
  3. Legal Framework
  4. Advantages of international arbitration
  5. Role of Indian Judiciary and government in International arbitration
  6. Challenges in international arbitration
  7. Landmark judgments
  8. Conclusion




International arbitration in India has a long history and can be traced back to the colonial era. During British rule, India was a major trading hub, and disputes arising from international trade were resolved through arbitration.


International arbitration in India has gained significant importance in recent years as the country continues to attract foreign investment and engaged in cross-border trade. With the aim of providing a fair and efficient dispute resolution mechanism, international arbitration has become a preferred choice for resolving parties from different jurisdictions.

Legal Framework:

  • The first significant development in international arbitration in India came with the enactment of the Indian Arbitration Act in 1899. This legislation provided a legal framework for the resolution of disputes through arbitration, including international disputes. However, this act was largely based on English Arbitration Act, 1889.
  • After India gained independence in 1947, the Indian Arbitration Act of 1940 continued to govern arbitration proceedings in the country. However, this act did not specifically address international arbitration, and there was a need for a more comprehensive legislation to deal with international disputes.
  • In 1996, India enacted the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, which replaced the outdated 1940 act. This new legislation was based on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration and aimed to align Indian arbitration laws with international standards.

The Arbitration and Conciliation Act of 1996 provided a robust legal framework for International Arbitration in India. It incorporated provisions for the enforcement of foreign arbitral awards, recognized the principle of party autonomy, and allowed for the appointment of arbitrators from outside India.

  • Over the years, India has taken several steps to promote International arbitration. In 2015, the Indian government established the Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration (MCIA) to provide a platform for the resolution of International commercial disputes. The MCIA is an independent arbitration institution that aims to position Mumbai as a leading arbitration hub in Asia. Other institutions such as the International Centre for Alternative Dispute Resolution (ICADR) and the Indian Council of Arbitration (ICA) also play a significant role in promoting international arbitration in India. Furthermore, India has also signed various International treaties and conventions related to arbitration, such as the New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards and the Geneva Protocol on Arbitration Clauses. Indian government has also taken steps to improve the ease of doing business in the country, which has a positive impact on international arbitration. Reforms such as the introduction of the GST and the implementation of the insolvency and bankruptcy code have made Indian a more attractive destination for foreign investors, leading to an increase in international arbitration cases.

Advantages of International Arbitration:

  1. One of the key advantages of international arbitration in India is the neutrality and impartiality of the arbitral tribunal. Parties have the freedom to choose arbitrators from any nationality or jurisdiction, ensuring a fair and unbiased decision-making process. This is particularly important in cross-border disputes where parties may have concerns about the impartiality of domestic courts.
  2. Another significant advantage of international arbitration in India is the enforceability of arbitral awards. The New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards, to which India is a signatory, ensures that arbitral awards rendered in India are recognized and enforceable in over 160 countries. This provides parties with the confidence that their awards will be respected and enforced internationally.

Role of Indian Judiciary and Government:

The Indian judiciary has also played a crucial role in promoting international arbitration in the country. The Supreme Court of India has consistently upheld the principles of party autonomy and minimal judicial intervention in arbitration proceedings. This approach has helped create a pro-arbitration environment, encouraging parties to choose India as the seat of arbitration. To further enhance the efficiency of international arbitration in India, the government has taken several initiatives. The establishment of specialized arbitration centers, such as the Mumbai centre for International Arbitration and the Delhi International Arbitration Centre, has provided state-of-the-art facilities for conducting arbitration proceedings. These centers also offer a panel of experienced arbitrators, ensuring the availability of qualified professionals for dispute resolution.

Additionally, the government has introduced amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996, to streamline the arbitration process and reduce the time and cost involved. These amendments include provisions for the appointment of an arbitral tribunal within a specific timeframe and the imposition of costs on parties for frivolous claims or delaying tactics. These measures have helped expedite the resolution of disputes and make international arbitration in India more efficient.

Challenges in international arbitration:

Despite these positive developments, there are still challenges that need to be addressed to further strengthen international arbitration in India. One such challenge is the limited availability of experienced arbitrators, especially those with expertise in complex commercial disputes. Efforts should be made to enhance the pool of qualified arbitrators through training programs and collaborations with international arbitration institutions.

Another challenge is the perception of delays in the Indian Judicial system. While the arbitration and conciliation act 1996 provides for minimal judicial intervention, parties may still approach the courts for interim measures or challenge arbitral awards. It is essential to ensure that these court proceedings are expedited to maintain the efficiency and effectiveness of international arbitration in India.

Landmark Judgments:

  1. Bhatia International vs. Bulk trading S.A. (2002): In this case the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that part I of the Indian Arbitration and Conciliation Act, which deals with domestic arbitration, would also apply to international commercial arbitration held in India unless the parties expressly exclude its application. This judgment was later overruled by the court in Bharat Aluminum case.
  2. Venture Global Engineering vs. Satyam Computer Services ltd. (2008): This judgment clarified the issue of arbitrability of fraud claims in international commercial arbitration. The court held that fraud allegations can be referred to arbitration unless they are of a serious nature and involve complex questions of fact and law that require detailed evidence and examination.
  3. Videocon Industries ltd. Vs. UOI (2011): In this case, the Hon’ble Supreme Court held that an award rendered in an international commercial arbitration seated outside India can be enforced in India under the New York convention, even if the arbitration agreement is governed by Indian law.
  4. Bharat Aluminium Co. vs. Kaiser Aluminium Technical Services Inc. (2012): This landmark judgment by the Hon’ble supreme court of India clarified the scope of judicial intervention in international commercial arbitration. The court held that Indian courts can only intervene in International arbitrations seated in India under limited circumstances, such as when there is a challenge to the appointment of arbitrators or when the arbitration agreement is found to be null and void.
  5. Enercon (India) Ltd. Vs. Enercon GmbH (2014): This judgment dealt with the issue of whether a non-signatory to an arbitration agreement can be bound by it. The court held that a non-signatory can be bound by an arbitration agreement if it can be shown that the non-signatory is a party to the underlying contract or if the non-signatory has otherwise consented to be bound by the arbitration agreement.

These landmark judgments have played a significant role in shaping the landscape of international arbitration in India and have provided clarity on various important issues related to the enforcement and scope of international arbitration agreements.


International arbitration in India has emerged as a reliable and efficient mechanism for resolving cross-border commercial disputes. The country’s legal framework, pro-arbitration approach of the judiciary, and efforts to enhance infrastructure and streamline the arbitration process have contributed to its growing popularity. With continued improvements and addressing the challenges, India has the potential to become a leading destination for international arbitration in the region.




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