The FINANCIAL — The International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce has announced the appointment of former ICC Deputy Counsel Abhinav Bhushan as Regional Director for South Asia. Mr Bhushan will be based in ICC Asia’s offices in Singapore and will take on part of the role of the current regional director, Sylvia Tee, who leaves ICC on 31 March 2016.
Mr Bhushan said : “I look forward to strengthening ICC’s presence in South Asia and am committed to further raising awareness of ICC Arbitration and other dispute resolution services. A foremost objective will be to develop a programme of first-rate networking and training events that will bring ICC expertise to the doorsteps of legal practitioners and dispute resolution users in the region.”
The Court has also announced that it has received approval from the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Commerce to open an office in the Shanghai Free Trade Zone and is in the process of completing its registration with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce. The Court plans to recruit a new permanent ICC Regional Director for North Asia, who will manage the Shanghai office and promote the Court in the region in coordination with Mr Bhushan.
President of the ICC International Court of Arbitration Alexis Mourre said: “I would like to commend Sylvia for her relentless work for the development of our activities in Asia. Sylvia has contributed her time and her talent to greatly developing our presence in a region of the world where the competition is extremely fierce. We are very sad that she decided to leave us for personal reasons, and I wish her good luck for her future career. I am sure that with Abhinav, we will build on her successes and continue to expand across the continent.”
The appointment of Mr Bhushan, an Indian national, is a continuation of ICC’s efforts to expand its on-the-ground presence in Asia. The first Indian Deputy Counsel of the Court, Mr Bhushan brings to his new role first-hand experience working on arbitrations arising out common law jurisdictions, in particular working with parties from India, Singapore and other regions of Asia, according to ICC.
Mr Bhushan’s appointment follows the creation of an Indian Arbitration Group of the ICC, established as part of ICC India. The Group comprises leading Indian arbitration practitioners, who will be the voice of the Indian dispute resolution community, providing guidance and insight on the latest developments in the region. It is presided over by Ciccu Mukhopadhaya, a leading counsel, arbitrator, and a former Vice-President of the ICC Court.
Mr Mukhopadhaya said: “With its positive long-term growth prospective, India holds enormous potential to become one of Asia’s leading arbitration friendly nations. Our aim is to leverage the expertise provided by the group to help hone a culture of arbitration in India and to channel feedback to the ICC Court from local users, counsel and arbitrators.”
Mr Mourre joined Mr Mukhopadhaya for the inaugural meeting of the Group, which took place in New Delhi on 21 December 2015. The Group will soon be reinforced by two new Indian members of the Court.
Mr Mourre said: “I am immensely grateful to Ciccu for accepting to lead this effort and to again give his time and immense talent for the benefit of the Court. With him, the future of ICC in India is in good hands. Our new activities coincide with government efforts to improve the environment for doing business in the country, and the creation of the Indian Arbitration Group will amplify ICC’s presence in India and raise awareness among international arbitration users in India of ICC’s world leading arbitration and dispute resolution services.”
A first priority in India for the Court in 2016 will be to support a pending challenge to the constitutionality, by way of intervention or similar submissions, on well-intentioned amendments in 2015 to India’s Arbitration and Conciliation Act, requiring mandatorily all arbitrations to be completed within 12 months (and a six-month extension if parties consent), and reserving to Courts the exclusive power to extend that time-limit. While the new Indian statute is a step in the right direction, this particular provision does not address the needs of international arbitrations seated in India which more often than not take longer than 12 months given the stakes involved and raises concerns about the effectiveness of institutional arbitration in India.