Fast track Arbitration
This article is written by Robinsh Kumar Singh
During ancient times arbitration, conciliation and mediation were the means for the settlement of disputes outside the formal legal system. These alternative means were recognized not only in India but also in other parts of the world. Thus, the settlement of disputes outside the scope of the formal legal system may be called an alternative means of settlement of disputes. However, in the context of the law of arbitration, the settlement of a dispute through a mediator is necessarily treated as an alternative means. Indian system prevailed in India before the advent of the Moguls Regime. India is a country of villages, and among the rural folks, the settlement of disputes was resolved by rural intellectuals and prominent persons in villages. On the arrival of Englishmen/Britishers in India, this system diminished by the inception of a formal legal system.
Since speed and cost are vital elements in commercial dispute resolution, fast track arbitration, a new form of arbitration, has evolved into a speedy and efficient settlement of disputes. Parties can resolve disputes rapidly and cost-effectively by fast track arbitration without the typical war of attrition. In commercial disputes, the parties can no longer pursue arbitration as long as it takes the fast track. Arbitration provides the structure which requires all parties to evaluate
their case, set priorities, and adopt the best alternative dispute resolution ADR strategy that could be accomplished quickly.
Why is Fast track Arbitration Adopted?
The necessity to provide for fast decisions in commercial matters costs the development of a particular type of fast track arbitration, which is becoming popular daily. Traditional arbitration is an improvement over traditional litigation in the courts, and fast track arbitration is an improvement over conventional arbitration. The case outcome stays mostly the same if it finishes within six months instead of 24 months, but it can cause substantial time and cost savings for the parties.
Comparison of Fast track Arbitration to other ADR techniques
ADR techniques such as conciliation, mediation, negotiation, and mini-trial had the benefit of less time and less cost. Still, there is no assurance that they will result in a legally binding settlement of disputes. These techniques bring the party together, but the settlement is not compulsory. Any party may walk out of such proceedings at any time or may not even agree to verify a fair settlement.
Moreover, it happens often that for the respondent, it is a case of either total or no liability; to avoid liability, he may refuse the settlement. But fast track arbitration is an effective technique that ensures speed, economy and binding settlements of disputes.
Features of Fast Track Arbitration
The following are the unique feature of fast track Arbitration:
It is pertinent to note that faster speed ensures the resolution of disputes in an agreed period. The time management techniques prevent the continuation of arbitration proceedings for years and ensure completion of the same within the prescribed period. The causes of excessive delay in arbitration are well known. Fast track arbitration gives parties a chance to secure a settlement of disputes in a given time frame by eliminating abuses and delays of traditional arbitration. It caused a meaningful reduction in the length of arbitration. The party does not need to waste time on unimportant matters and can focus their attention on crucial issues in the dispute.
India is a country of poor men residing in rural and urban areas, so an indigent litigant will prefer the economical solution to their disputes. The cost of fast track arbitration is comparatively low due to a reduction in the length of arbitration, elimination of abuses and delays of arbitration and general avoidance of oral hearings, entirely stopping the cost management techniques that prevent the multiplication of actual cost to the parties. It seeks to make the arbitration cost-efficient.
Final and Binding settlement
A Fast track arbitration agreement is binding on parties and can be enforced as any other arbitration agreement between parties. Similarly, an arbitral award is final and binding on parties due to its nature as an adjudicatory process by the authority of law itself. It is not dependent upon the mutual consent of the parties themselves.
Procedure to be followed
Administration moves faster not because of skipping any vital step in the arbitration process but mainly because of the cutting of delays and lengthy procedures:
- The arbitral tribunal is constituted as per the provision of the agreement between parties. The claimant then submits a statement of facts and claim, and the respondent submits a defect and counterclaim.
- Both parties file documentary evidence with the pleadings and also submit a written submission/ argument/ summary.
- The arbitral tribunal applies its mind and may ask for further documentation, submission or information, if any, required by it and, after that, makes an award.
The only difference is that the period for specific steps to be taken during the proceedings is enforced, and oral hearings are generally avoided.
Where does Fast track Technique Apply?
Fast track arbitration is the best suitable in most cases which can be decided based on documents and in which oral hearings and witnesses are optional. Even oral hearings can be held in fast track arbitration but only in exceptional cases. Fast track arbitration is not suitable in cases involving the large-scale discovery of documentation, very lengthy presentations, numerous submissions, numerous witnesses, or expert analysis.
Fast track arbitration requires the highest priority leaving other matters aside. Hence, disputes for which there is eno real need to have an urgent decision may be submitted to fast track arbitration. Similarly, conflicts which require urgent settlements but, due to evidentiary requirements, are not suitable to be decided in first-track arbitration may not be submitted to fast track arbitration.
Institutional arbitration is usually fast track arbitration. Institutions help in enabling faster communication among the parties, appointments of the arbitrators, and handling of the administration of the case and the costs in an effective manner. The institution supervises and provides support exercises over an arbitration conducted following its rules. They effectively deal with delays and defaults of any parties and ensure speed in settling disputes.
Fast track Arbitration or Arbitration is a dispute settlement by the decision, not of a regular and ordinary court of law but of one or more persons called arbitral tribunal. Considering the delay, inconvenience and expenses involved through traditional courts, arbitration is an efficient, expeditious, speedy and economical substitute for litigation.
However, as arbitrators are not always beneficiaries of legal training, they might overlook legal principles, waive off rules of evidence and miscarriage of justice may entail. Therefore, the court may have to intervene to regulate arbitral proceedings, set aside the award, or give legal sanction to the arbitrator’s award.