Saturday, July 10, 2010

Arbitration updates: The Kishanganga Project and Commerce Benches

1. We had reported earlier on the impending arbitration between India and Pakistan regarding the Kishanganga water dispute. India and Pakistan have both selected their respective arbitrators.
However, the countries have, as yet, failed to agree on the three neutral umpires, including the chairperson of the Court of Arbitration. If bilateral consultations fail and the umpires are not appointed within 30 days of appointment of the respective arbitrators, then the Secretary of the United Nations or President of the World Bank would select the chairperson; the engineer member umpire can be selected from a lot by president of Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Rector, Imperial College of Science and Technology, London; and Legal member umpire can be selected from a draw of lots by either the Chief Justice of the United States or Lord Chief Justice of England, as per provisions of the treaty between India and Pakistan.

2. At a national conference held in Bangalore, the Law Minister Veerappa Moily, on July 3, announced exclusive benches dealing with commerce matters which are to be set up in High Courts. The Bill constituting these benches was passed by the Lok Sabha and is currently pending in the Rajya Sabha. This is a welcome change since a direct outcome of these commerce benches would be that arbitration petitions would be heard by these benches effectively speeding up the process of commercial arbitration in India.

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