An arbitral tribunal is not bound by the Code of Civil Procedure or the Indian Evidence Act. The parties are free to agree on the procedure for conducting arbitration. If the parties don’t agree on the procedure, the tribunal is empowered to conduct the proceedings in the manner it considers appropriate.
In an institutional arbitration the conduct of arbitration is governed by the institutional rules that the parties choose. In an arbitration under the Arbitration Act which is ad hoc in nature, the statute gives liberty to the parties and tribunal to decide the procedure to conduct arbitration.
Once the Tribunal is constituted, ordinarily the following steps are involved to complete an arbitration:
- Pleadings and documents: The claimant files the Statement of Claim stating the facts, the points at issue and relief or remedy sought. The respondent shall file Statement of Defence in respect of those particulars. The parties may file the documents they consider relevant alongwith SOC and SOD. The respondent may also file its counterclaim or plead set off which falls within the scope of the arbitration agreement. The pleadings may be amended or supplemented during the course of the arbitral proceedings. In India, the arbitrations follow Court style pleadings contrary to memorial process prevalent in international arbitration.
- Evidence: Unless parties agree otherwise, the Tribunal shall decide whether to hold oral hearing for evidence or to proceed on the basis of documents. In case, oral evidence is to be recorded, the parties should file their list of witnesses followed by witness statement (evidence by way of affidavit). The parties may also file expert witness statement. The Tribunal has also power to appoint expert to report it on specific issued to be determined by the tribunal. Once the witness statements are filed, the tribunal records the oral evidence which involves cross-examination and re-examination.
- Arguments: After completion of evidence, the oral arguments on behalf of both the parties are heard by the tribunal. The oral arguments are followed by written submissions by both parties.