Lord Peter Goldsmith QC, PC recently made a keynote address to the 10th Annual International Arbitration Conclave in New Delhi, where he made a spirited case against changes to the law proposed in the nation’s 2018 Arbitration Bill. Here he condenses his arguments for Asia Business Law Journal
Last year, my learned colleague and friend, the Honourable Chief Justice of Singapore, Sundaresh Menon, spoke at the 10th Annual International Arbitration Conclave in New Delhi on “The role of national courts of the seat in international arbitration”. In his address, he outlined five key attributes underlying a successful arbitral seat and noted the significant progress made by India on all fronts.
I have had the privilege to be associated with arbitration in India over a number of years, both as counsel and as arbitrator. I have watched the progress made by practitioners, the courts and even government to advance the prospects of arbitration in India. This progress has been considerable, not only in the Arbitration Ordinance, but also in the discussions and reports that preceded it, the deliberations and ultimate pro-arbitration decisions of the Supreme Court in a number of cases which proceeded on the premise that – for good reason – India had a serious ambition to establish itself as a leading hub for international arbitration, and therefore to reverse elements of the law which impeded that ambition. I have attended numerous conferences in which that ambition has been spoken of in loud and authoritative terms.
And there was a considerable burden to carry to achieve that aim, because India had developed a reputation internationally as a jurisdiction to shun; the courts were too ready to intervene in cases, or to refuse enforcement on dubious grounds, even in cases not seated in India.
Progress has been considerable and I was looking forward therefore to commending that progress and expressly sharing Chief Justice Menon’s optimism that India can establish itself as a leading international arbitration hub, and commending the government that explicitly gave it that aim.