Friday, June 2, 2023

Arbitration needs younger blood: Justice Hemant Gupta

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India International Arbitration Centre Chairperson Justice Hemant Gupta called on lawyers and law students to consider arbitration as a serious option for practice.

Speaking to law students and lawyers at the India Legal Research Foundation in an informal gathering on Saturday, Justice Gupta noted that currently the top picks for arbitrators are retired judges from the Supreme Court and the various High Courts.  

He quipped that the ever familiar group of retired judges has made it seem like an old boys’ club, which needs to be overcome. In this context, he said young lawyers are very competent and should be given a chance, adding lawyers with a practice of 10 years or so will make a sea difference in arbitration.

Justice Gupta added arbitration is looked upon with unnecessary caution by younger lawyers because they aren’t that keen on arbitration and they end up preferring litigation. In this light, he said the India International Arbitration Centre is in talks with the Indian Institute of Management to come up with a certificate course in arbitration. Not just lawyers, engineers and chartered accountants can also become arbitrators, he said.

Highlighting some aspects of the changes incorporated in amendments after the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996, Justice Gupta said no organisation had been designated for arbitration. In contrast, the world over arbitrators are designated by institutes such as the Singapore International Centre and the London International Centre.

He said a majority of the arbitrations in India are ad hoc arbitrations with no cap on the number of hearings and on the fees. As a result, arbitration fee is challenged in court, Justice Gupta said, highlighting some cases.

Such reasons end up working as challenges against making India an international hub of arbitration, he said. Challenges to arbitration also arise in the form of post-award litigations, where the awards are objected to.

Replying to a question from APN News and India Legal Editor-in-Chief Rajshri Rai on the five must-have qualities to be a successful arbitrator, Justice Gupta said sincerity to the cause and the client, and hard work are the only things required to make a mark in the field.

Supreme Court Bar Association Vice President and Senior Advocate Pradeep Rai welcomed Justice Gupta to the gathering. Senior Advocate Rai shared his experience of Justice Gupta’s judgeship and noted he promotes young lawyers.

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