National Consultation Session on proposed Arbitration (Amendment) Act held on Saturday, 27 October, 2018.

User friendly Arbitration Act emphasized to attract more foreign investment

Speakers at the National Consultation Session on proposed Arbitration (Amendment) Act 2018 held on 27 October, 2018 at the Conference Hall of Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce and Industry (MCCI), Dhaka stressed on the need of amendment to the existing Arbitration Act of 2001. Bangladesh International Arbitration Centre (BIAC) organized the Session.

Speaking at the event as Chief Guest Justice Shahidul Karim, Judge of the High Court Division, Supreme Court of Bangladesh said that Bangladesh economy is growing fast and existing provisions of law are not enough to handle business and commercial disputes expeditiously. He welcomed the initiative of Law Commission Bangladesh to amend the Arbitration Act 2001 and hoped that the proposed Arbitration (Amendment) Act 2018 will be user friendly and after passing of the Act stakeholders will be enormously benefitted and more foreign investment will pour in which in turn will be able to contribute to overall development of our economy.

The Session was presided over and moderated by Mahbubur Rahman, Chairman of BIAC and President, International Chamber of Commerce- Bangladesh (ICC-B). In his speech Mahbubur Rahman hoped that arbitration framework in Bangladesh will be more competitive and attractive for both Bangladeshi and international clients, as soon as the Arbitration Act is amended and made up to date in line with international best practices. It will definitely reduce cost and time of disposal of business disputes through Arbitration, he said.
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In his welcome speech CEO of BIAC Muhammad A. (Rumee) Ali said that the proposed amendment to the existing Arbitration Act aims at addressing the twin and very important objectives of the Government, ‘Access to Justice’ one of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to which Bangladesh is a signatory and second, the issue of our very low ranking in the ‘Enforcement of Contracts’ of global Doing Business Index. He hoped that participation by judges, Government policy makers, the legal academia and legal executives from the corporate sector will be able to agree on important recommendations for bringing about positive changes in arbitral laws.
In the Keynote speech Barrister Khandoker M S Kawsar elaborated as how Bangladesh can be one of the top Arbitral seats in Asia by 2028. He presented a comparative study of arbitral statutes in India, China, Singapore, Hong Kong and South Africa. He hoped that the proposed Arbitration Amendment Act 2018 will help Bangladesh grow as a neutral, accessible, predictable and balanced seat of arbitration where disputing parties from different nationalities will feel comfort to arbitrate commercial disputes in Bangladesh. He also highlighted BIAC’s capacity as a unique facilitator of arbitration in the country.

Among others as a Panelist Discussant Fowzul Azim, Chief Research Officer, Law Commission Bangladesh highlighted the exigencies that led the Law Commission to initiate a draft to amend the Arbitration Act 2001. He said that the experience of the Act in the last 17 years needs to be reviewed in order to practice arbitration outside the Court so that the overburdened judiciary can function better and especially disputes arising out of businesses between Bangladeshi and expatriate parties can be resolved maintaining international standards. He said that the Law Commission sought opinion on the proposed Arbitration (Amendment Act) 2018 from a number of stakeholders and users including BIAC.

Mubina Asaf, Head of Legal and External Affairs, British American Tobacco Bangladesh pointed out issues faced by potential arbitrating parties, including cost, time to complete process, Court’s intervention during the process of arbitration and enforcement of arbitral awards.
AKM Iftekhar Ahmad, Consultant, Green Delta Insurance Co. Ltd. in his remarks said that in policies written on indemnification basis, the insurer reimburses the insured for claims and Arbitration Clause is there in the Indemnification Contract to assess the quantum of loss. In this regard appropriate arbitral rules are required, he opined.
M A Akmall Hossain Azad, Director, BIAC in his observation emphasized the need of specific provision in the Arbitration (Amendment) Act 2018 for execution of its own Award by an Arbitral Tribunal. He also gave a few recommendations on behalf of BIAC for the proposed amendment of the arbitration law.
Among others who took part in the discussion were, Md. Sanowar Hossain, Registrar Department of Patents, Designs & Trademarks, Dr. Mohammad Mohiuddin, Joint Secretary, Legislative and Parliamentary Affairs Division, Barrister Margub Kabir, Associate, Huq and Company, Tauhidur Rahman Khan, Director, Bangladesh Investment Development Authority (BIDA), Barrister Forrukh Rahman, Head of Chambers, Rahman’s Chambers, Barristers & Advocates, Md. Golam Sarwar, Joint Secretary, Law and Justice Division, Golam Kibria, Director ( Training) , Judicial Administration Training Institute (JATI), Md. Zulfiquar Ali, FVP, Legal Affairs Division, Dhaka Bank Ltd. and Christabel Randolph, Head of Legal, Marico Bangladesh Ltd.

Former Justices of the Supreme Court, judges, prominent legal practitioners and academicians also attended the Session.