Friday, July 16, 2010

Cyber Arbitration In India

Alternative dispute resolution (ADR) in India has a history of more than 60 years with the Arbitration Act 1940 as one of the initial laws in this regard. The 1940 act was repealed by the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996.

This has, however, not produced much change in the ADR law of India. The backlog of civil cases keeps on increasing despite the 1996 Act. This is due to the fact that there are many legal, procedural and fundamental weaknesses in the 1996 Act.

The 1996 Act is in the process of reformulation and there are numerous lacunas that must be removed in the next ADR law of India. The Parliament of India has, however, a serious limitation while formulating ADR laws. It is not much aware of the information and communication technology (ICT) related issues of ADR.

Cyber arbitration is one such aspect. Cyber arbitration is popularly known as online dispute resolution (ODR) mechanism. ODR is a better and improved form of ADR provided India is willing to encash its benefits.

The problem is there are very few ODR institutions in India. Even lesser are ODR experts who can resolve technical, legal and other scientific disputes in an online environment. Even the national litigation policy of India (NLPI) failed to address this issue.

There is no doubt that formulating good techno-legal ODR practices and regulations require tremendous expertise. There are few ODR providers who can assist the Indian government in this regard.