Upon its launch in October 2016, the Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration (MCIA) – a brand new arbitral institution providing Indian businesses with a platform to negotiate commercial disputes – was hailed as a significant step toward making Mumbai an international financial services centre (IFSC).

Established by way of a joint initiative between the government of Maharashtra and the domestic and international business and legal communities, the MCIA has been promoting itself and its services as “a new dawn” for the world of international arbitration.

“While arbitration in general – principally ad hoc arbitration – has been prevalent in the Indian legal market for a long time, arbitration in the way that it is conducted internationally, institutional arbitration in particular, has not gained much traction,” asserts Nish Shetty, a partner and head of Asia-Pacific litigation and dispute resolution at Clifford Chance. “There is therefore a lack of familiarity and understanding of the process among the vast majority of practitioners in India, with some notable exceptions.”

However, with the establishment of the MCIA, this ‘lack of familiarity’ is all set to be consigned to the dustbin of history. Whether you buy into the ‘new dawn’ hyperbole or not, it is clear that the instigators of India’s first international arbitration centre have spared no expense, creating a facility that is state of the art and certainly not lacking in key selling points. 

Jan-Mar 2017 issue

Fraser Tennant