CONDUCT OF ARBITRAL PROCEEDING: SECTION 23
S.23- Statements of claim and defence
(1) Within the period of time agreed upon by the parties or determined by the arbitral tribunal, the claimant shall state the facts supporting his claim, the points at issue and the relief or remedy sought, and the respondent shall state his defence in respect of these particulars, unless the parties have otherwise agreed as to the required elements of those statements.
(2) The parties may submit with their statements all documents they consider to be relevant or may add a reference to the documents or other evidence they will submit.
(3) Unless otherwise agreed by the parties, either party may amend or supplement his claim or defence during the course of the arbitral proceedings, unless the arbitral tribunal considers it inappropriate to allow the amendment or supplement having regard to the delay in making it.
FIXED TIME SCHEDULE: The provisions in this sub-section are aimed at restricting the parties to the time frame agreed to between themselves, failing which by the arbitral tribunal. It is incumbent upon the party making the claim to state:
· The facts supporting the claim
· The points at issue
· The relief or remedy sought
On the receipt of statement of claim from the claimants, the respondents shall state:
· The defence in respect of each of the claims made against him
· Any other information/statement rebutting the claim
The foregoing stipulations have to be complied with by the parties, unless the parties have otherwise agreed as to the required elements of those statements.
PLEADINGS: Arbitrators should realise that pleadings are of the greatest importance in narrowing the issues between the parties and reducing the ultimate cost. In the case of In Re. Crighton and Law Car & General Insurance Co. Ltd. (1910), the solicitors of both the parties attended before the arbitrator, who on their suggestion directed points of claim and defence. These were delivered. The arbitrator eventually held a sitting and one party desired to amend his points of dispute so as to add a new ground. Held that the arbitrator had a discretion to allow or refuse to allow the amendment. However, if the parties have not placed any restriction regarding add, alter, delete, substitute, amend to any part of the statements then,
· Either party may amend or supplement his claim of defence
· Such amendment or supplementing of the claim/defence can be made only if the arbitral proceedings are still continuing
· The amendment may be allowed by tribunal, if such is made by request without any delay.
But, in the case of Maharashtra Industries Dev. Corp. Ltd. vs. Goverdhani Const. Co. (2008), the court still left the discretion of amendment with the tribunal and reaffirming the law laid down in Crighton case (supra).
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Author Details: Vaibhav Goyal (BA LLB Student, Panjab University)