Supreme Court mulls young lawyers as arbitrators to cut cost | India News

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NEW DELHI: Spiralling cost of arbitration, once touted and vigorously promoted as the preferred alternative dispute resolution mechanism, on Friday forced the Supreme Court to seriously mull engaging young and competent lawyers as arbitrators instead of retired HC and SC judges.
In a case of arbitration before a retired HC judge, the parties expressed their frustration over the retired judge repeatedly adjourning the proceedings on one pretext or the other but kept on raising fees for each sitting leaving the parties to foot hefty bills.
“With folded hands we plead with the Supreme Court to stop this practice of certain retired judges dragging arbitration proceedings and fleecing parties with unreasonable fees running into lakhs of rupees for each sitting,” lawyers told a bench of Justices D Y Chandrachud and M R Shah.
The bench appeared well aware of the maladies inserted into the otherwise efficacious alternative dispute resolution mechanism by certain unscrupulous retired judges while acting as arbitrators.
Justice Chandrachud said that the Bombay High Court has devised an innovative way for speedy completion of arbitration proceedings by appointing young, competent and knowledgeable lawyers as arbitrators. “The Bombay HC has started appointing young lawyers as arbitrators, who take it as an honour to be chosen for the assignment by the HC. They conduct the arbitration proceedings smoothly and often charge meagre fees,” the SC said.
This assumes significance as for nearly two decade, the SC had been encouraging arbitration and had also taken steps towards making India an international arbitration hub. Last week, CJI N V Ramana opened the process for establishing an international arbitration centre at Hyderabad and had said that it would be both an answer and assurance for international investors who had apprehensions about India’s expensive and time-consuming litigation process. He added that this was the first step for the emergence of an alternate dispute resolution facility and expected it to be a reality in the next few months.

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