An international arbitration centre or IAC is where the corporate world goes to settle their squabbles. Or, in more formal terms, disputes arising out of commercial agreements in various sectors.
Physically, an IAC offers conference facilities with ante-rooms for sub-sessions, communications services and the like. But what differentiates an IAC from a high-tech business centre?
For one, arbitration is different from court litigation. It is a private negotiation between the lawyers representing the disputing parties. When negotiations reach a stage where a referee or judge or some kind of neutral decision-maker is required, the IAC will have a panel to reach a verdict. These panels would typically be made up of international corporate law experts (sometimes including former jurists) and senior corporate citizens with impeccable credentials. Generally arbitration is less time-consuming than going the legal route.
In India, such arbitration is governed by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 2016. Every agreement has a dispute redressal clause, which lays down the ways in which a dispute can be resolved. The options could be going to a normal court of law, mutually appoint an arbitrator or going to an IAC or similar institution.
The Act lays down a time frame of 18 months for the disputes to be resolved. Disputants can appoint a mutually acceptable judge. And the rulings of such a judge are binding, though a verdict can be challenged in a normal court of law if one or both parties wish to do so.
Currently, the leading IACs are located at London, Hong Kong and Singapore. While the arbitration centres of Singapore and London have established offices in India, those are only liaison centres. While the SIAC has an office in Mumbai, the London representative office at Delhi shut shop a few months ago.