Case: – TATA Sons Pvt Ltd (Formerly TATA Sons Ltd) v/s Siva Industries and Holdings Ltd & Ors; Miscellaneous Application No 2680 of 2019
In the above captioned matter, the Apex Court has court clarified that the twelve-month time limit prescribed in Section 29A (1) for domestic arbitrations does not apply to international commercial arbitrations.
The amended Section 29A (1) emphasizes that the arbitral tribunal in international commercial arbitrations should make an endeavour to complete proceedings within twelve months from the date of the completion of pleadings. The court underscored that this timeline is only directory and not mandatory for international commercial arbitrations. The proviso to Section 29A (1) reinforces this, stating that the award in international commercial arbitration “may be made as expeditiously as possible,” and an “endeavours may be made” to dispose of the matter within 12 months.
The bench observed that the legislative intent was clear in distinguishing between domestic and international commercial arbitrations. In domestic arbitrations, the twelve-month period is mandatory, while in international commercial arbitrations, it is merely a guideline. The court highlighted that the amended Section 29A (1) is remedial in nature, aiming to address concerns over the rigid timeline for international commercial arbitrations.
Moreover, the court clarified that the amended provision applies retrospectively, considering it a remedial measure that does not confer new rights or liabilities on any party. The removal of the mandatory time limit for international commercial arbitration falls within the arbitrator’s discretion and is beyond judicial intervention.
In conclusion, the Supreme Court’s ruling provides clarity on the application of time limits in international commercial arbitrations, emphasizing the remedial nature of the amended Section 29A (1) and its retrospective effect on pending arbitral proceedings as of August 30, 2019. This decision reinforces a more flexible and pragmatic approach to the resolution of international commercial disputes.

Author of this article:
Adv. Ravish Bhatt,
Partner, R&D Law Chambers,
Dual Qualified Lawyer Solicitor | International Tax Affiliate

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