Mumbai arbitration centre to open on October 8

As he enters his 20th floor conference room at Express Towers, Madhukeshwar Desai picks up a tablet kept near the door, and presses a button. The interiors in the room start changing into video conference mode: the lighting changes, curtains begin rolling down automatically on the glass windows, hiding the stunning view of Marine Drive, darkening the room, a video screen scrolls down to cover the TV set, and the room is set for a session.

At the click of another button, the room changes back from a state-of-the art video conferencing room into a regular corporate conference room. “Normally, a technical guy will come and fidget with the gadgets to change the room into a video conferencing facility. We want to save every single minute of our clients. Arbitration is an expensive process, and clients pay lawyers by the minute and the hour. So, time is money, and we want to provide all the facilities that an international arbitration centre offers to our clients,” says Desai, Chief Executive Officer of the Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration (MCIA), after giving The Hindu an exclusive look into the under-construction centre at Nariman Point.

“Each of the seven arbitration rooms will be made sound-proof, and will be accessible only to the two disputing parties and the arbitrators with assigned key cards,” says Mr. Desai, a qualified lawyer who also serves as the National Vice President of BJP Yuva Morcha. Seated beside him is Neeti Sachdeva, an experienced arbitration professional who will work as the Registrar and Secretary General of MCIA.

MCIA is the first-of-its-kind arbitral institution in India, established in a joint initiative between the Maharashtra government and the domestic as well international business and legal communities. Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis will inaugurate the MCIA on October 8, taking a step forward in not only making Mumbai an International Finance Centre, but providing a platform for Indian companies to resolve their disputes in Mumbai instead of Singapore or London.

The launch of the MCIA will be preceded by a day-long conference on international arbitration and its importance. More than 24 big names from the Indian and international arbitration landscape will participate.

MCIA has an open fee structure, made effective from June 15, 2016. Apart from a non-refundable fee of Rs. 40,000 for registering a case with its arbitrators, the MCIA has drawn up a fixed schedule of fees that disputing parties will have to pay depending on the total sum involved in the dispute. For a dispute valued at Rs. 10 lakh to Rs. 50 lakh, the administrative fee stands at Rs. 50,000 and arbitrator’s fee stands at Rs. 1 lakh.

“Similarly, if the parties want one arbitrator to mediate in the dispute, the fee is Rs. 50,000, and for three, it can go up to Rs. 80,000. So, the disputing parties will know beforehand how much they have to pay when they are filing a case with us,” says 28-year-old Desai, who happens to be the great grandson of the late former Prime Minister Morarji Desai.

The transparency in fees (in Singapore or London, the costs are typically worked out between the two parties), besides the attractive costs will ensure that business going to Singapore, London and South East Asia can come to MCIA, said Kaustubh Dhavase, Officer on Special Duty in the Chief Minister’s Office."MCIA will put India on the world arbitration map and push up its rankings in World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business index. It will also play a key role in making Mumbai an International Finance Serivces Centre (IFSC),” said Kaustubh Dhavase, Officer on Special Duty in Chief Minister’s Office who has been supervising the logistics of the MCIA under direct supervision of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and BJP MP Poonam Mahajan, who is the deputy chairperson of the IFSC Task Force headed by union Minister of State for Finance, Jayant Sinha.

Its potential can be underlined by the fact that India ranks third among the Singapore International Arbitration Centre’s (SIAC) top foreign users. In 2013, 85 of 259 cases filed before the SIAC were filed by Indian companies. In 2013, SIAC established a Mumbai office to facilitate the growing demand for international arbitration in India. “Today, 25 per cent of cases at SIAC arbitration cases has an Indian party,” says Ms Sachdeva.

“We have often seen that two corporates based in Mumbai go to Singapore for arbitration. They spend money and it helps the Singapore economy. If we create the same ecosystem here, corporates will spend less money and travel time, and save on other logistics. It will also add something to the economy here,” Mr Fadnavis told The Hindu.

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Printable version | Oct 18, 2021 4:43:53 AM |

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