• RFMLR

ONLINE DISPUTE RESOLUTION: EXTENDING THE SCOPE OF SEAT-VENUE CONUNDRUM

Updated: Apr 22

This guest post is authored by Mr. Guillermo Coronado Aguilar, Partner at Coronado Arbitration, Mexico, and Pranav Tomar, Associate Editor at RFMLR.

INTRODUCTION


Arbitration is at the center stage in adjudicating inter-state commercial disputes around the world. Whenever an arbitration clause is drafted, a reference to the arbitral seat is a fundamental characteristic. The arbitral seat defines the lex arbitri of the tribunal, and the exclusivity of the national courts for the annulment of an award or the possible granting of interim reliefs. Open-ended and vague drafting of arbitration clauses can lead to confusion between the ‘place’ and ‘seat’ of the arbitration. Moreover, amidst the pandemic, the global trend of Alternative Dispute Resolution (hereinafter ‘ADR’) has shifted to Online Dispute Resolution (hereinafter ‘ODR’), wherein the parties resolve their dispute through online mediums, instead of being physically present at the chosen venue. Due to ODR, the seat-venue conundrum is likely to get complicated, especially in cases where the seat of arbitration is clearly defined. The challenge that ODR poses is the determination of the jurisdiction in which the parties should seek the annulment of the award. The article discusses how the Indian courts have dealt with the seat-venue conundrum. The author also lays out the challenges that the courts will face with the introduction of ODR.


CONTRADICTORY JUDGMENTS OF INDIAN COURTS


The Indian courts have often wavered by giving contradictory judgments with respect to the seat of arbitration. In the case of