At SimranLaw, our legal experts are well-versed in complex legal issues, such as the interpretation and understanding of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act. Here, we intend to dissect the Act’s Section 75, focusing on the aspect of confidentiality in arbitration, with some relevant case laws for deeper insight.
Arbitration is a essential tool in commercial dispute resolution, ensuring a swift resolution while avoiding the more formal, expensive and time-consuming litigation process. The confidentiality of these proceedings is key, promoting honesty in disclosing facts and preventing delicate information from being exposed publicly.
Section 75 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (hereinafter referred to as ‘the Act’) frames this principle in Indian Law. The section reads: Notwithstanding anything contained in any other law for the time being in force, the conciliator and the parties shall keep confidential all matters relating to the conciliation proceedings.
This section implies that all matters concerning the arbitration procedure are deemed confidential by all the parties involved. The rationale behind this is to encourage candid and open discussions between parties.
Case Law Analysis:
1. Eros International Media Limited vs Telemax Links India Pvt Ltd (2016), Arbitration Petition No. 337 of 2013 – In this case, the Bombay High Court held that arbitration hearings should be conducted privately and confidentially. Breach of confidentiality could lead to serious implications such as affecting the sanctity of arbitration proceedings.
2. Ameet Lalchand Shah and Others vs Rishabh Enterprises and Another (2018) – Here, the Apex Court reiterated that parties have a legitimate expectation that their commercial secrets and confidential information will not be divulged during arbitration proceedings.
In both these cases, Indian courts recognized the importance of confidentiality in arbitration proceedings and reinforced Section 75 of the Act.
Moreover, confidentiality extends even post-arbitration, ensuring that sensitive information disclosed during the proceedings is not misused. This was demonstrated in the decision of the English Court of Appeal in the case of Dolling-Baker v. Merrett  1 WLR 1205, where it was held that confidentiality survives termination of the arbitration process.
However, there are certain exceptions to this principle. Section 75 does not apply when disclosure of information is required by the legal duty, to protect or enforce a legal right, or in enforcing or challenging an arbitral award.
The role and importance of confidentiality in arbitration are manifold. It protects the commercial interests of the parties involved and upholds the integrity and effectiveness of the arbitration process. It encourages the parties to participate fully and frankly in the proceedings. Thus, maintaining confidentiality is paramount to ensuring a successful arbitration process.
In conclusion, Section 75 of the Arbitration and Conciliation Act establishes a broad principle of confidentiality in Indian arbitration law. However, it is important to note that this principle is not absolute, and exceptions do exist based on legal necessity and rights protection. At SimranLaw, we are committed to assisting our clients comprehensively understand these legalities, secure their rights, and navigate through their legal issues effectively.