Arbitration Bar of India

‘To get full mileage from the 3 Ds- dividends of democracy, demographics and demand, high quality arbitration is a notable factor in attracting Foreign Direct Investment’: Dr. S. Jaishankar at the inauguration of the Arbitration Bar of India

The legal landscape of India witnessed a momentous occasion with the official inauguration of the Arbitration Bar of India (ABI) on May 11, 2024, at Bharat Mandapam, New Delhi. The event, graced by esteemed dignitaries, including External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar, Minister of Railways, Communications, and Electronics and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw, Attorney General for India R Venkataramani, Solicitor General Tushar Mehta, ABI President Gourab Banerji, and Mr. Tejas Karia, Partner at Shardul Amarchand Mangaldas (SAM), marked the dawn of a new chapter in India’s journey in the world of arbitration.

A Landmark Moment in India’s Legal History

The inauguration ceremony of the Arbitration Bar of India (ABI) symbolized a significant milestone in India’s legal journey. With a focus on fostering excellence, ethics, and diversity in arbitration practice, ABI represents a shift in how arbitration is perceived and practiced in the country.

Embracing Change: ABI President’s Vision

In his keynote address, ABI President Gourab Banerji, Senior Advocate, articulated the pivotal role of ABI in shaping the future of arbitration in India. Mr. Banerji highlighted the transformative potential of ABI in enhancing the efficiency and efficacy of the dispute resolution process. “The setting up of this Arbitration Bar of India will be a major step in that direction,” Mr. Banerji remarked. He emphasized that ABI is not merely another institution, but a pan-India organization dedicated to promoting professionalism and specialization in arbitration.

Solicitor General Tushar Mehta underscored the transformative impact of legislative amendments and government initiatives on arbitration in India. “From the revolutionary amendments made in the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 to the recent reforms in 2019, the Government of India has been extremely proactive,” he emphasized.

The Attorney General for India, Sri R Venkataramani, emphasized the importance of ABI in institutionalizing arbitration in India. “Having a dedicated bar will be enormously influential in the institutionalization of arbitration in India,” Mr. Venkataramani stated. He further emphasized on the need for diversity at the Bar. “This association will not and cannot be any exclusive men’s club. All of us want wonderful and accomplished sisters at the Bar to be active office bearers and participants,” he added.

Member of Parliament and Minister of Railways, Communications, Electronics, and Information Technology Ashwini Vaishnaw highlighted the digital dimension of ABI. “In a sense, this Arbitration Bar of India is born digital. This digital birth needs to be complemented further with a lot more digital technology,” Mr. Vaishnaw remarked.

Positioning India: A Premier Arbitration Destination

External Affairs Minister Dr. S. Jaishankar reaffirmed the government’s commitment to positioning India as a premier arbitration destination. “Arbitration is a cornerstone of modern dispute resolution, particularly in a rapidly evolving globalized environment,” Dr. Jaishankar emphasized. “Make in India- where arbitration is concerned, ‘Arbitrate in India’, is actually a facet of Make in India,” he added.

Mr. Tejas Karia, Partner and Head of Arbitration at SAM, expressed optimism about India’s ambition to become a preferred seat for international arbitration. He remarked, “Arbitration Bar of India will play a pivotal role in ensuring India’s growth as a preferred seat for international arbitration.”

The inauguration ceremony of ABI heralds a new era of professionalism, ethics, and inclusivity in India’s arbitration ecosystem. With a shared commitment to excellence, diversity, and policy advocacy, ABI stands poised to shape the future of arbitration in India.

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