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Report No. 246


70. Arbitration, much like traditional adversarial dispute resolution, can be an expensive proposition. The savings of a party in avoiding payment of court fee, is usually offset by the other costs of arbitration - which include arbitrator's fees and expenses, institutional fees and expenses, fees and expenses in relation to lawyers, witnesses, venue, hearings etc.

The potential for racking up significant costs justify a need for predictability and clarity in the rules relating to apportionment and recovery of such costs. The Commission believes that, as a rule, it is just to allocate costs in a manner which reflects the parties' relative success and failure in the arbitration, unless special circumstances warrant an exception or the parties otherwise agree (only after the dispute has arisen between them).

71. The loser-pays rule logically follows, as a matter of law, from the very basis of deciding the underlying dispute in a particular manner; and as a matter of economic policy, provides economically efficient deterrence against frivolous conduct and furthers compliance with contractual obligations.

72. The Commission has, therefore, sought comprehensive reforms to the prevailing costs regime applicable both to arbitrations as well as related litigation in Court by proposing section 6-A to the Act, which expressly empowers arbitral tribunals and courts to award costs based on rational and realistic criterion.

This provision furthers the spirit of the decision of the Supreme Court in Salem Advocate Bar Association v. Union of India, AIR 2005 SC 3353, and it is hoped and expected that judges and arbitrators would take advantage of this robust provision, and explain the "rules of the game" to the parties early in the litigation so as to avoid frivolous and meritless litigation/arbitration.

Amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 Back

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