Fast Track Arbitration in India

Author: Karan Pratap Singh, University Five Year Law College, University of Rajasthan


The growing importance of arbitration in India has led to a need for expedited arbitration proceedings to resolve disputes efficiently.[1] Fast track arbitration under Section 29B of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (the “Act”) is a key development in this regard, but it has scope for improvement.[2] Fast track arbitration is a streamlined process where parties agree to resolve their dispute within a fixed time frame, usually 6 months, with a sole arbitrator and primarily through written submissions.[3]

Legal Framework for Fast Track Arbitration in India

Section 29B was introduced by the Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act, 2015 (the “2015 Amendment”) and allows parties to opt for fast track arbitration before the constitution of the arbitral tribunal.[4] The provision mandates a sole arbitrator, no oral hearings unless requested by parties or deemed necessary by the tribunal, and an award within 6 months.[5] This expedited timeline can be extended by the court only in exceptional circumstances.[6] The Supreme Court in Board of Control for Cricket in India v. Kochi Cricket Private Limited (2018) held that Section 29B applies only to arbitrations commenced after the 2015 Amendment came into force on October 23, 2015.[7]

Institutional Expedited Procedure Rules in India

Leading arbitral institutions in India have also incorporated expedited procedure rules.[8] The Indian Council of Arbitration provides for fast track arbitration in Rule 44 of its Rules of Domestic Commercial Arbitration, where parties can request the tribunal to decide the case within 3-6 months based on written pleadings.[9] Similarly, the Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration has introduced expedited arbitration rules with strict timelines and limited oral hearings.[10]

Comparative Analysis with Other Jurisdictions

Compared to other jurisdictions, India’s fast track arbitration regime has some unique features and challenges.[11] The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) Expedited Procedure Rules 2017 automatically apply to disputes below US$ 2 million with an opt-out provision, while the Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) Expedited Procedure has a higher monetary threshold of S$ 6 million and allows summary reasoning in the award.[12] The Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC) and the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC) also have well-established expedited procedures.[13]

Suitability and Challenges of Fast Track Arbitration

Fast track arbitration is particularly suitable for low value and less complex disputes that require urgent relief.[14] However, it raises procedural fairness concerns regarding due process, equal treatment of parties, and assessing credibility without oral hearings.[15] Enforceability challenges may also arise if the expedited process is seen as compromising on natural justice principles.[16] Parties should carefully consider these factors and adopt best practices such as comprehensive written submissions and using technology for virtual hearings.[17]

Scope for Legislative Reform in India

There is scope for legislative reform to optimize the potential of fast track arbitration in India.[18] Introducing a monetary threshold for automatic application, expanding availability beyond the pre-constitution stage, allowing reasoned awards, and clarifying the interplay with expedited enforcement under the 2015 Amendment are some suggestions.[19] The Law Commission of India in its 246th Report recommended a 6-month time limit for fast track arbitrations, which was incorporated in the 2015 Amendment.[20]

Role of Arbitral Institutions in Promoting Fast Track Arbitration

Promoting institutional expedited procedures is key to the success of fast track arbitration in India.[21] Arbitral institutions can play a vital role in administering expedited cases, appointing experienced arbitrators, and ensuring quality and efficiency.[22] The 2019 Amendment to the Act recognized the importance of institutional arbitration by establishing the Arbitration Council of India to grade arbitral institutions and accredit arbitrators.[23]

Balancing Efficiency and Fairness in Fast Track Arbitration

Fast track arbitration is a step in the right direction to address the problem of delays and high costs in arbitration.[24] It offers a speedy and cost-effective alternative to traditional arbitration, especially for disputes that require quick resolution.[25] However, further legislative refinement and institutional support are needed to balance efficiency with due process and to optimize its potential in the Indian context.[26]


A fortiori, fast track arbitration is a welcome development in India’s evolving arbitration landscape.[27] It aligns with the government’s efforts to promote India as a hub for international arbitration and to improve its ranking in the Ease of Doing Business index.[28] As more parties opt for expedited proceedings and more cases are decided under this mechanism, fast track arbitration is likely to become a mainstream dispute resolution option in India.[29] However, it is important to strike a balance between speed and fairness, and to ensure that the quality of justice is not compromised in the pursuit of efficiency.[30]


[1] Nishith Desai Associates, ‘International Commercial Arbitration: Law and Recent Developments in India’ (2022)
[2] Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996, s 29B
[3] Anubhav Pandey, ‘Fast Track Arbitrtaion’ (iPleaders, 18 March 2024)
[4] Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act 2015, s 15
[5] Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996, s 29B(2)-(4)
[6] Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996, s 29B(4) proviso
[7] Board of Control for Cricket in India v Kochi Cricket Private Limited (2018) 6 SCC 287
[8] Bhavana Sunder, ‘Expedited Procedures in Arbitral Institutions: Emerging Trends in India and Abroad’ (2021) 6(1) Indian Journal of Arbitration Law 84
[9] Indian Council of Arbitration, ‘Rules of Domestic Commercial Arbitration’ (2016) r 44
[10] Mumbai Centre for International Arbitration, ‘Expedited Arbitration Rules’ (2016)
[11] Gunawan Widjaja, ‘Fast Track Arbitration: Comparative Analysis’ (2019) 472 Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research 43
[12] International Chamber of Commerce, ‘Arbitration Rules’ (2017) app VI; Singapore International Arbitration Centre, ‘Arbitration Rules’ (2016) r 5
[13] Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, ‘Administered Arbitration Rules’ (2018) art 42; Arbitration Rules of the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (2017) art 39
[14] David JA Cairns, Florencia Villaggi, ‘Expedited Arbitration: Reducing Time and Cost Without Sacrificing Due Process’ (2019) 5 Indonesian Journal of International & Comparative Law 625
[15] Irene Welser, Giovanni De Berti, ‘Fast Track Arbitration: Just fast or something different?’ (2019) Austrian Yearbook on International Arbitration 259
[16] Moin Ghani, ‘The Pitfalls of Fast Track Arbitration’ (Kluwer Arbitration Blog, 14 September 2016)
[17] Sue Hyun Lim, Lars Markert, ‘Expedited Procedure Under the 2017 ICC Rules – New Options for Resolving Disputes’ (2018) 18(1) Revista Brasileira de Arbitragem 59
[18] Rishi Shroff, ‘Fast Track Arbitrations in India: The Road Ahead’ (Kluwer Arbitration Blog, 12 January 2022)
[19] Binsy Susan, Aashna Sheth, ‘Expedited Procedures in Indian Arbitration Law: A Race to the Finish Line?’ (Nishith Desai Associates, 10 March 2021)
[20] Law Commission of India, ‘Amendments to the Arbitration and Conciliation Act 1996’ (Law Com No 246, 2014) para 63
[21] Pratyush Panjwani, Harshad Pathak, ‘Institutional Arbitration in India: A Work in Progress?’ (2020) 11(2) Journal of International Dispute Settlement 252
[22] Ekta Nair, ‘Role of Arbitral Institutions in Promoting Arbitration in India’ (2020) 33(2) Arbitration International 331
[23] Arbitration and Conciliation (Amendment) Act 2019, ss 10-11
[24] Ajay Thomas, ‘Making a Case for Fast Track Arbitrations in India’ (2017) 3 Indian Journal of Arbitration Law 1
[25] Hazel Genn, ‘What is Civil Justice For? Reform, ADR and Access to Justice’ (2012) 24(1) Yale Journal of Law & the Humanities 397
[26] Sachin Mandlik, Vanita Bhargava, ‘The Case for Expedited Arbitrations in India’ (Kluwer Arbitration Blog, 10 August 2020)
[27] Nishith Desai Associates, ‘Arbitration in India: The Impact of the 2015 and 2019 Amendments’ (2020)
[28] Ministry of Law and Justice, ‘Initiatives to Promote Arbitration in India’ (Press Information Bureau, 6 February 2020)
[29] Kshama A Loya, Vyapak Desai, ‘Changing Landscape of Arbitration in India’ (2019) 36(4) Journal of International Arbitration 493
[30] Amelia Keene, ‘Due Process Paranoia in International Arbitration: Balancing Efficiency and Enforceability’ (2020) 36(1) Arbitration International 111