Commercial arbitration is currently the preferred mode of dispute resolution for complex disputes. The growing popularity of arbitration has led parties to include arbitration clauses for all large transactions and commercial agreements. An increasing number of government entities and public sector ventures include arbitration clauses in their standard form contracts. These entities are also regularly parties to arbitrations.
The existing law relating to international arbitration was considered archaic and changes were indispensable. This was the reason that in 1995, the Minister for Law, Justice and Company Affairs introduced, in the Upper House of Parliament, a bill to implement the UNCITRAL Model Law and to provide statutory recognition for the process of conciliation. Thus, the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996 was enacted. The Indian Arbitration Act heavily corresponds to the recommendations flowing from the UNCITRAL Model Law in that all countries signing it have to give consideration.
There have been many amendments to change the Arbitration landscape in India. These have added quite a few imperative changes to the Arbitration Act to increase its efficiency, speed, and credibility. Some of the important additions to the Arbitration Act include:
- Discouraging the filing of frivolous applications related to arbitration awards;
- Discouraging the delays in arbitration creating an efficient cost regime;
- The imposition of time limits;
- Encouraging institutional arbitration;
- Limiting court intervention at the pre and post-arbitration stages;
The executive branch has sought to bring about efficiency in arbitration involving government entities by encouraging ministries to comply with arbitration awards, pending any proposed challenge, in the interests of ensuring cash flow, particularly in relation to large disputes.
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However, with the positive amendments come disputes that are more complex. The healthcare industry has been plagued with such disputes in recent times. Some significant ones are:
- Disputes among members of physician groups or between different hospitals and other staff;
- False Claims Act (FCA) and other fraud cases against hospitals, doctors, pharmacies, drug manufacturers etc.;
- Complex disputes arising from mergers and acquisitions;
- Reimbursement disputes involving government agencies, pharmacies, physicians, doctors;
- Risk management controversies and Personal Accident Insurance;