Section 28: Rules applicable to substance of dispute—
(1) Where the place of arbitration is situated in India,—
(a) in an arbitration other than an international commercial arbitration, the arbitral tribunal shall decide the dispute submitted to arbitration in accordance with the substantive law for the time being in force in India;
(b) in international commercial arbitration,—
(i) the arbitral tribunal shall decide the dispute in accordance with the rules of law designated by the parties as applicable to the substance of the dispute;
(ii) any designation by the parties of the law or legal system of a given country shall be construed, unless otherwise expressed, as directly referring to the substantive law of that country and not to its conflict of laws rules;
(iii) failing any designation of the law under sub-clause (ii) by the parties, the arbitral tribunal shall apply the rules of law it considers to be appropriate given all the circumstances surrounding the dispute.
(2) The arbitral tribunal shall decide ex aequo et bono or as amiable compositeur only if the parties have expressly authorised it to do so.
(3) While deciding and making an award, the arbitral tribunal shall, in all cases, take into account the terms of the contract and trade usages applicable to the transaction.
Section 29: Decision-making by panel of arbitrators—
(1) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, in arbitral proceedings with more than one arbitrator, any decision of the arbitral tribunal shall be made by a majority of all its members.
(2) Notwithstanding sub-section (1), if authorised by the parties or all the members of the arbitral tribunal, questions of procedure may be decided by the presiding arbitrator.
Section 29-A: Time limit for arbitral award—
(1) The award in matters other than international commercial arbitration shall be made by the arbitral tribunal within a period of twelve months from the date of completion of pleadings under sub-section (4) of Section 23:
Provided that the award in the matter of international commercial arbitration may be made as expeditiously as possible and endeavour may be made to dispose of the matter within a period of twelve months from the date of completion of pleadings under sub-section (4) of Section 23.
(2) If the award is made within a period of six months from the date the arbitral tribunal enters upon the reference, the arbitral tribunal shall be entitled to receive such amount of additional fees as the parties may agree.
(3) The parties may, by consent, extend the period specified in sub-section (1) for making award for a further period not exceeding six months.
(4) If the award is not made within the period specified in sub-section (1) or the extended period specified under sub-section (3), the mandate of the arbitrator(s) shall terminate unless the court has, either prior to or after the expiry of the period so specified, extended the period:
Provided that while extending the period under this sub-section, if the court finds that the proceedings have been delayed for the reasons attributable to the arbitral tribunal, then, it may order reduction of fees of arbitrator(s) by not exceeding five per cent for each month of such delay:
Provided further that where an application under sub-section (5) is pending, the mandate of the arbitrator shall continue till the disposal of the said application:
Provided also that the arbitrator shall be given an opportunity of being heard before the fees is reduced.
(5) The extension of period referred to in sub-section (4) may be on the application of any of the parties and may be granted only for sufficient cause and on such terms and conditions as may be imposed by the court.
(6) While extending the period referred to in sub-section (4), it shall be open to the court to substitute one or all of the arbitrators and if one or all of the arbitrators are substituted, the arbitral proceedings shall continue from the stage already reached and on the basis of the evidence and material already on record, and the arbitrator(s) appointed under this section shall be deemed to have received the said evidence and material.
(7) In the event of arbitrator(s) being appointed under this section, the arbitral tribunal thus reconstituted shall be deemed to be in continuation of the previously appointed arbitral tribunal.
(8) It shall be open to the court to impose actual or exemplary costs upon any of the parties under this section.
(9) An application filed under sub-section (5) shall be disposed of by the court as expeditiously as possible and endeavour shall be made to dispose of the matter within a period of sixty days from the date of service of notice on the opposite party.
Section 29-B: Fast track procedure—
(1) Notwithstanding anything contained in this Act, the parties to an arbitration agreement, may, at any stage either before or at the time of appointment of the arbitral tribunal, agree in writing to have their dispute resolved by fast track procedure specified in sub-section (3).
(2) The parties to the arbitration agreement, while agreeing for resolution of dispute by fast track procedure, may agree that the arbitral tribunal shall consist of a sole arbitrator who shall be chosen by the parties.
(3) The arbitral tribunal shall follow the following procedure while conducting arbitration proceedings under sub-section (1):
(a) The arbitral tribunal shall decide the dispute on the basis of written pleadings, documents and submissions filed by the parties without any oral hearing;
(b) The arbitral tribunal shall have power to call for any further information or clarification from the parties in addition to the pleadings and documents filed by them;
(c) An oral hearing may be held only, if, all the parties make a request or if the arbitral tribunal considers it necessary to have oral hearing for clarifying certain issues;
(d) The arbitral tribunal may dispense with any technical formalities, if an oral hearing is held, and adopt such procedure as deemed appropriate for expeditious disposal of the case.
(4) The award under this section shall be made within a period of six months from the date the arbitral tribunal enters upon the reference.
(5) If the award is not made within the period specified in sub-section (4), the provisions of sub-sections (3) to (9) of Section 29-A shall apply to the proceedings.
(6) The fees payable to the arbitrator and the manner of payment of the fees shall be such as may be agreed between the arbitrator and the parties.]
Section 30: Settlement—
(1) It is not incompatible with an arbitration agreement for an arbitral tribunal to encourage settlement of the dispute and, with the agreement of the parties, the arbitral tribunal may use mediation, conciliation or other procedures at any time during the arbitral proceedings to encourage settlement.
(2) If, during arbitral proceedings, the parties settle the dispute, the arbitral tribunal shall terminate the proceedings and, if requested by the parties and not objected to by the arbitral tribunal, record the settlement in the form of an arbitral award on agreed terms.
(3) An arbitral award on agreed terms shall be made in accordance with Section 31 and shall state that it is an arbitral award.
(4) An arbitral award on agreed terms shall have the same status and effect as any other arbitral award on the substance of the dispute.
Section 31: Form and contents of arbitral award—
(1) An arbitral award shall be made in writing and shall be signed by the members of the arbitral tribunal.
(2) For the purposes of sub-section (1), in arbitral proceedings with more than one arbitrator, the signatures of the majority of all the members of the arbitral tribunal shall be sufficient so long as the reason for any omitted signature is stated.
(3) The arbitral award shall state the reasons upon which it is based, unless—
(a) the parties have agreed that no reasons are to be given; or
(b) the award is an arbitral award on agreed terms under Section 30.
(4) The arbitral award shall state its date and the place of arbitration as determined in accordance with Section 20 and the award shall be deemed to have been made at that place.
(5) After the arbitral award is made, a signed copy shall be delivered to each party.
(6) The arbitral tribunal may, at any time during the arbitral proceedings, make an interim arbitral award on any matter with respect to which it may make a final arbitral award.
(7)(a) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, where and in so far as an arbitral award is for the payment of money, the arbitral tribunal may include in the sum for which the award is made interest, at such rate as it deems reasonable, on the whole or any part of the money, for the whole or any part of the period between the date on which the cause of action arose and the date on which the award is made.
(b) A sum directed to be paid by an arbitral award shall, unless the award otherwise directs, carry interest at the rate of two per cent higher than the current rate of interest prevalent on the date of award, from the date of award to the date of payment.
Explanation.—The expression “current rate of interest” shall have the same meaning as assigned to it under clause (b) of Section 2 of the Interest Act, 1978 (14 of 1978).
(8) The costs of an arbitration shall be fixed by the arbitral tribunal in accordance with Section 31-A.
Section 31-A: Regime for costs—
(1) In relation to any arbitration proceeding or a proceeding under any of the provisions of this Act pertaining to the arbitration, the court or arbitral tribunal, notwithstanding anything contained in the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908 (5 of 1908), shall have the discretion to determine—
(a) whether costs are payable by one party to another;
(b) the amount of such costs; and
(c) when such costs are to be paid.
Explanation.—For the purpose of this sub-section, “costs” means reasonable costs relating to—
(i) the fees and expenses of the arbitrators, courts and witnesses;
(ii) legal fees and expenses;
(iii) any administration fees of the institution supervising the arbitration; and
(iv) any other expenses incurred in connection with the arbitral or court proceedings and the arbitral award.
(2) If the court or arbitral tribunal decides to make an order as to payment of costs,—
(a) the general rule is that the unsuccessful party will be ordered to pay the costs of the successful party; or
(b) the court or arbitral tribunal may make a different order for reasons to be recorded in writing.
(3) In determining the costs, the court or arbitral tribunal shall have regard to all the circumstances, including—
(a) the conduct of all the parties;
(b) whether a party has succeeded partly in the case;
(c) whether the party had made a frivolous counter-claim leading to delay in the disposal of the arbitral proceedings; and
(d) whether any reasonable offer to settle the dispute is made by a party and refused by the other party.
(4) The court or arbitral tribunal may make any order under this section including the order that a party shall pay—
(a) a proportion of another party’s costs;
(b) a stated amount in respect of another party’s costs;
(c) costs from or until a certain date only;
(d) costs incurred before proceedings have begun;
(e) costs relating to particular steps taken in the proceedings;
(f) costs relating only to a distinct part of the proceedings; and
(g) interest on costs from or until a certain date.
(5) An agreement which has the effect that a party is to pay the whole or part of the costs of the arbitration in any event shall be only valid if such agreement is made after the dispute in question has arisen.
Section 32: Termination of proceedings—
(1) The arbitral proceedings shall be terminated by the final arbitral award or by an order of the arbitral tribunal under sub-section (2).
(2) The arbitral tribunal shall issue an order for the termination of the arbitral proceedings where—
(a) the claimant withdraws his claim, unless the respondent objects to the order and the arbitral tribunal recognises a legitimate interest on his part in obtaining a final settlement of the dispute;
(b) the parties agree on the termination of the proceedings; or
(c) the arbitral tribunal finds that the continuation of the proceedings has for any other reason become unnecessary or impossible.
(3) Subject to Section 33 and sub-section (4) of Section 34, the mandate of the arbitral tribunal shall terminate with the termination of the arbitral proceedings.
Section 33: Correction and interpretation of award; additional award—
(1) Within thirty days from the receipt of the arbitral award, unless another period of time has been agreed upon by the parties—
(a) a party, with notice to the other party, may request the arbitral tribunal to correct any computation errors, any clerical or typographical errors or any other errors of a similar nature occurring in the award;
(b) if so agreed by the parties, a party, with notice to the other party, may request the arbitral tribunal to give an interpretation of a specific point or part of the award.
(2) If the arbitral tribunal considers the request made under sub-section (1) to be justified, it shall make the correction or give the interpretation within thirty days from the receipt of the request and the interpretation shall form part of the arbitral award.
(3) The arbitral tribunal may correct any error of the type referred to in clause (a) of sub-section (1), on its own initiative, within thirty days from the date of the arbitral award.
(4) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, a party with notice to the other party, may request, within thirty days from the receipt of the arbitral award, the arbitral tribunal to make an additional arbitral award as to claims presented in the arbitral proceedings but omitted from the arbitral award.
(5) If the arbitral tribunal considers the request made under sub-section (4) to be justified, it shall make the additional arbitral award within sixty days from the receipt of such request.
(6) The arbitral tribunal may extend, if necessary, the period of time within which it shall make a correction, give an interpretation or make an additional arbitral award under sub-section (2) or sub-section (5).
(7) Section 31 shall apply to a correction or interpretation of the arbitral award or to an additional arbitral award made under this section.
IMPORTANT CASE LAWS
1. Interpretation of Contract by Arbitrator
HRD Corpn. v. GAIL (India) Ltd., (2018) 12 SCC 471: “……..Section 28(3) has also been amended to bring it in line with the judgment of this Court in Associate Builders [Associate Builders v. DDA, (2015) 3 SCC 49 : (2015) 2 SCC (Civ) 204] , making it clear that the construction of the terms of the contract is primarily for the arbitrator to decide unless it is found that such a construction is not a possible one.”
2. Arbitral Award shall state the reasons for granting of such an award
T.N. Electricity Board v. Bridge Tunnel Constructions, (1997) 4 SCC 121: “……the law on the award, as governed by the new Act, is the other way about the pre-existing law; it mandates that the award should state the reasons upon which it is based. In other words, unless (a) the parties have agreed that no reasons are to be given or (b) the award is an arbitral award on agreed terms under Section 30 of the new Act, the award should state the reasons in support of determination of the liability/non-liability. Thereby, legislature has not accepted the ratio of the Constitution Bench in the Chokhamal Contractors case [(1989) 2 SCC 721] that the award, being in the private law field, need not be a speaking award even where the award relates to the contract of private parties or between person and the Government or public sector undertakings. The principle is the same, namely the award is governed by Section 31(3).”
3. Delivery of Arbitral Award
Union of India v. Tecco Trichy Engineers & Contractors, (2005) 4 SCC 239: “The delivery of an arbitral award under sub-section (5) of Section 31 is not a matter of mere formality. It is a matter of substance. It is only after the stage under Section 31 has passed that the stage of termination of arbitral proceedings within the meaning of Section 32 of the Act arises. The delivery of arbitral award to the party, to be effective, has to be “received” by the party. This delivery by the Arbitral Tribunal and receipt by the party of the award sets in motion several periods of limitation such as an application for correction and interpretation of an award within 30 days under Section 33(1), an application for making an additional award under Section 33(4) and an application for setting aside an award under Section 34(3) and so on. As this delivery of the copy of award has the effect of conferring certain rights on the party as also bringing to an end the right to exercise those rights on expiry of the prescribed period of limitation which would be calculated from that date, the delivery of the copy of award by the Tribunal and the receipt thereof by each party constitutes an important stage in the arbitral proceedings.”