Resolution of Commercial Disputes in India: A Review of the
Commercial Courts, 2015

-Dr. Vijay Kumar Singh and Aratrika Deb

In the 188th Report on Proposals for Constitution of Hi-Tech Fast – Track Commercial Divisions in High Courts, the Law Commission had expressed concerns over the generalisations made by the courts in the United Kingdom (‘U.K.’) and the United States (‘U.S.’) with respect to litigation delays in India. The Commission felt that adequate structural changes needed to be brought to civil courts of the country in a way that they themselves are equipped to solve all high value commercial matters in a timely manner. This led to the very first wave of establishing ‘commercial courts’ or ‘commercial divisions’ in 2003, for disposing high value commercial matters on a fast-track basis. It focused on two major notions – definition of ‘commercial dispute’ and ‘specified value’ of a commercial dispute – as two prerequisites to developing an appropriate dispute resolution framework. After 2003, almost a decade later the Commercial Courts Act, 2015 (‘CCA 2015’) was enacted where Commercial Courts exclusively equipped to handle complex ‘commercial disputes’ were created by the government. This was done to tackle the problem of judicial delays in commercial dispute resolution and further to improve India’s position on the World Bank’s ‘enforcement of contracts’ indicator. It has been close to seven years since then and in this short span of time, these Commercial Courts have generated and kindled the interest of the Bar and Bench. The volume of cases that we have seen in these last years is a testament to the same. In the aforesaid context, the objective of the paper is to re-evaluate the utility of these commercial courts and commercial divisions and analyse the CCA, 2015. The paper aims to explore whether the 2015 Act has lived up to the intent of the legislation and its stakeholders or has just turned out to be an ‘old wine in a new bottle’.