Seminar on Arbitration Act

A stable business environment featured by an efficient dispute resolution system is one of the pre-requisites for attracting FDI, said Barrister Md. Sameer Sattar, President of Dhaka Chamber of Commerce & Industry (DCCI) at a seminar on “Revisiting Arbitration Act for Promoting FDI in Bangladesh” organized by DCCI on April 2, 2023 at DCCI Auditorium.

Minister for Law, Justice and Parliamentary Affairs Anisul Huq, MP, MP was present as the chief guest while Robert Chatterton Dickson, British High Commissioner in Bangladesh was present as special guest.

DCCI President also said that in order to further promote the ongoing growth and success of our business climate; it is essential that we establish a legal framework that enables swift and efficient contract enforcements, particularly in the context of cross-border commercial disputes. Therefore, it is essential to reform the Arbitration Act as the first step towards addressing such challenges existing in our legal atmosphere. With a rapid FDI stream in Bangladesh, the number of commercial disputes has risen significantly over the last few decades. As a result, arbitration has emerged as the pre-eminent mode of dispute resolution in recent times. Arbitration is meant to be a fast and cost-effective way of resolving commercial disputes and traditionally foreign investors have chosen arbitration over national court litigation when resolving cross-border disputes.

Law Minister Anisul Huq, MP said that through alternative dispute resolution mechanism we can get faster access to justice. Government is committed to make best possible business friendly rules and regulations. Arbitration Act 2001 may be revisited. He later urged the business community to use ADR. He also agreed that through an effective ADR mechanism FDI regime will be improved a lot. He said that the Mediation convention will be signed. CPC Act has already been amended, he informed. He also agreed that there should have fixed time frame for arbitration proceeding.

British High Commissioner Robert Chatterton Dickson said that Bangladesh has done a tremendous progress especially in the last two decades. Moreover, Bangladesh will be graduated from the LDC group in next three years and reforms of arbitration act will help improve ease of doing business and that will attract FDI more. After LDC graduation Bangladesh will have to compete with other countries. It is true that foreign investors need their investment protection and faster litigation process through arbitration and mediation are very effective. It is possible to reform commercial laws and it is possible to make improvement and in that case India could be a good example, he said. He said enforcement of contract remains the key challenge in improving the business climate in Bangladesh, he added. Once Bangladesh will work closely with international investors, regulatory and policy reforms with systematic improvement needs to continue on this business climate improvement trajectory, he further said.

Barrister Ashraful Hadi, Advocate, Supreme Court of Bangladesh presented the keynote paper. He recommended that the arbitral tribunal should have the same power as the court. He also said that the definition of “Court” under the Arbitration Act 2001 should include High Court in respect of international commercial arbitration. Besides, payment method of stamp duty in all aspects should be digitalized, he added. He also underscored the need of a central database for arbitration proceedings in domestically and internationally. Bangladesh can become a suitable venue for arbitration among foreigners or foreign investors, he mentioned. He later urges to formulate an international commercial court, so that we can dispose of disputes in an expedited manner.

Zaved Akhtar, CEO, Unilever Bangladesh Ltd. said that arbitration needs specialized resources and understanding of different aspects as well. He also proposed for a smart arbitration model with digitized mechanism. Moreover awareness is very crucial to make it more familiar among the business community, he said.

Yasir Azman, CEO, Grameenphone Ltd. said that for arbitration predictability, certainty and protection of investment are important. Arbitration Act 2001 was laudable initiative but now its needs reforms. He further stressed on digitalization and technology for faster use of arbitration act.

Promod Nair, Advocate of India said that India has made amendment in their Arbitration Act and after that reforms their position in the ease of doing business index has been improved. He also informed that India has separate commercial courts to deal with business disputes only. Moreover, the Act has identified specific time limit and fees for each arbitration proceeding. He also said that they have online dispute resolution mechanism that reduces costs and time as well.

DCCI Vice President Md. Junaed Ibna Ali gave the vote of thanks.

Published on: 2023-04-02

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