One of four new members of the court, Nair regularly appears as counsel and advocate in arbitration and litigation proceedings before the Supreme Court of India, and the Karnataka, Bombay and New Delhi High Courts, and has represented clients in LCIA, ICSID, ICC and ad hoc arbitrations.
Commenting on the news, JSA senior partner Berjis Desai said: “We are very happy for Promod on this appointment as it is in recognition of him being a dispute resolution specialist with extensive experience in arbitration and commercial and public law litigation.”
Indian Lawyer caught up with Nair to discuss his career to date, his new role and his views on the current state of Indian arbitration:
IL: Have you had any involvement with the LCIA prior to your new appointment?
PN: I have not previously been involved with the LCIA in any formal capacity prior to this appointment. I have, of course, been involved over the years in a number of LCIA-administered arbitrations and am an enthusiastic supporter of its activities in India and further afield.
In 2012, I was privileged to be instructed by LCIA India to assist it with its intervention before the Supreme Court of India in the BALCO v Kaiser Aluminium matter. That case resulted in one of the most influential pro-arbitration judgments of the court in recent times, and that was deeply satisfying.
IL: What will your role as a member of the LCIA Court involve?
PN: The LCIA Court is the final authority for the proper application of the LCIA Rules. Its key functions are appointing tribunals, determining challenges to arbitrators and controlling costs. Members of the Court may be called upon to sit, from time to time, on the Divisions of the Court that decide challenges against arbitrators, or respond to complaints about the costs of an arbitration. In addition to these functions, members would also be expected to assist in the promotion of the objectives of the LCIA and of arbitration generally. I very much look forward to participating in the work of the Court and to promoting the objectives of the institution.
IL: How will your new responsibilities fit in with your work at JSA?
PN: Unlike the roles of the president and the vice-presidents of the Court, which entail functions to be discharged on a daily basis, the role of a member is not expected to be hugely time-intensive and my day job at JSA should remain unaffected – or at least that is what I have told my partners!
IL: You joined JSA from Herbert Smith in London relatively recently, what prompted your move back to India?
PN: I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Herbert Smith in London, however the move back to India in 2011 was mainly for personal reasons. Also, India today is a land of immense potential for an arbitration practitioner and I have been fortunate in having had the opportunity to do some very interesting commercial and treaty arbitration work over the last twenty months since I moved back. Arbitration – mainly of the ad hoc variety – is flourishing, though much can be done to improve general standards and to ensure the practice of arbitration in India is aligned with international best practices. I hope to play a part, however small, towards this end. With the growing popularity of arbitration as a method to resolve commercial disputes, the gradual emergence of a specialist bar and a new generation of dynamic and enthusiastic practitioners coming to the fore, arbitration in India is poised for a much brighter future.
IL: India was the first jurisdiction to get its own independent subsidiary of the LCIA in 2009. What makes the LCIA rules a “good fit” for India?
PN: The LCIA Rules are a tried and tested set of rules that are suitable for all types of arbitrable disputes. A relatively light-touch approach to administration of arbitrations, the computation of costs without regard to the amounts in dispute, rules designed to ensure an expeditious, cost effective and quality arbitration – all these are now recognised as defining characteristics of the LCIA process. These attributes are widely appreciated, including in India. They have also served to encourage users of ad hoc arbitration to move to writing institutional arbitration clauses into their contracts, and this trend is particularly pronounced in India.
The recent establishment of LCIA India, which offers users of arbitration the convenience of a local secretariat whilst offering LCIA-quality arbitration, has been widely welcomed and has served to raise the profile of both institutions (LCIA and LCIA India) in this part of the world.