Section 24 of Arbitration and Conciliation Act– Hearings and written proceedings
(1) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, the arbitral tribunal shall decide whether to hold oral hearings for the presentation of evidence or for or an argument, or whether the proceedings shall be conducted on the basis of documents and other materials: Provided that the arbitral tribunal shall hold oral hearings, at an appropriate state of the proceedings, on a request by a party, unless the parties have agreed that no oral hearing shall be held.
(2) The parties shall be given sufficient advance notice of any hearing and of any meeting of the arbitral tribunal for the purposes of inspection of documents, goods or other property-
(3) All statements, documents or other information supplied to, or applications made to the arbitral tribunal by one party shall be communicated to the other party, and any expert report or evidentiary document on which the arbitral tribunal may rely in making its decision shall be communicated to the parties.
DISPENSING ORAL HEARING:
Joint reading of section 19 and section 24(1) makes it clear to have an oral hearing at the request of the parties and becomes duty of the arbitrator to provide for the same as been affirmed in the case of ADV Consultants vs. Pioneer Equity Trade (India) Pvt. Ltd.(2009). An arbitral tribunal is obliged to grant oral hearing, at an appropriate stage of the proceedings, if a request is made by either of the parties, unless the parties had agreed that no oral hearing shall be held. If the arbitral tribunal rejects the request of the petitioner for allowing oral hearing on the ground that it can be allowed only if agreed to by the other party, then award made by the arbitral tribunal would be set aside as observed in case of Rakesh Kumar vs. State of H.P. (2005).
STEPS TO BE FOLLOWED:
The steps as following be followed during arbitration:
- Fixing the procedure
- Defining the issues
- Production and preparation of the documents
- Interim protection orders
- Orders for security
- Arranging the hearing
- Investigation of facts and law; the hearing
- The decision
- The award
- Appeal proceedings
An arbitrator is a master of procedure is a general proposition. It is subject always to any restriction imposed upon him by the arbitration agreement and to any constraints imposed by the mandatory requirements of the Act. The tribunal is entitled to avoid the unnecessary delay and expense that would be caused by such an approach. The tribunal should should take a grip on the proceedings and indicate to the parties those areas on which it particularly wishes to be addressed and those which it does not consider relevant to the real issue of the dispute. He must always bear in mind the possibility that the parties, may prefer and guide and cheap resolution of their differences to a meticulous, time-consuming and expensive search for perfect justice.
It has the duty of the arbitrator to inform opponent of communications of the part. Proviso to section 24(1) provides that if the parties before the arbitral award seek to lead oral evidence it must be granted as the expression is “shall hold oral hearing” at the request of parties. The tribunal has a discretion as to whether any party or witness is to be examined on oath or affirmation and has power to administer the oath or affirmation itself. This is subject to agreement otherwise by the parties. If no objection is taken to witness giving unsworn evidence then the objection may have been waived.
- Section 18: Equal treatment of parties
- Section 19: Determination of rules of procedure
- Section 20: Place of arbitration
- Section 21: Commencement of Arbitral Proceedings
- Section 22: Language
- Section 23: Statement of claim and defence
- Section 24: Hearing and written proceedings
- Section 25: Default of a Party
- Section 26: Expert appointment by arbitral tribunal
- Section 27: Court assistance in taking evidence
- More notes on Arbitration and Conciliation Act
- More law notes
Author Details: Vaibhav Goyal (BA LLB Student, Panjab University)