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India’s 1st Services based Gujarat Maritime Cluster to house Arbitration and Mediation Centre focussed on Maritime & Shipping sector

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Gujarat is set to witness development of an arbitration and mediation centre primarily focusing on the maritime and shipping sector. Being developed under the aegis of the Gujarat Maritime University, the centre will come up at the Gujarat Maritime Cluster being developed at the GIFT City and would be known as the Gujarat Mediation and Arbitration Centre (GMAC) .

A webinar was organized on 11.12.2020 to promote the centre and to solicit opinion their opinion. Hon’ble Mr. Justice M .R Shah, Judge, Supreme Court of India participated in the webinar as the Chief Guest. In his address, he articulated his views on the various alternate disputes mechanism adopted worldwide like mediation, arbitration, negotiation, etc and explained their cost and time effectiveness vis-à-vis litigation mode. He expressed optimism over the development of Gujarat Maritime Cluster in Gujarat which has evolved as the principal maritime State, and is endowed with well developed port infrastructure along with wide array of maritime and shipping activities.

The other panellists at the webinar included Mr. Lalit Bhasin, Chairman, Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, India; Prof. (Dr.) S Shanthakumar, Vice Chancellor, Gujarat National Law University; Mr. Punit Oza Executive Director & Registrar, Singapore Chamber of Maritime Arbitration; Mr. Ganesh Chandru, Partner, Dua Associates and Mr. Ajay Thomas, Arbitrator & Member, ICC Commission on Arbitration & ADR.

Presently, in the absence of an internationally acceptable arbitration centre in India focusing on the entire gamut of maritime and shipping services, the foreign investors have long preferred referring their disputes to the arbitration centres based in London, Singapore or even Hong Kong and most the business disputes involving Indian parties land up at these places. Development of GMAC shall ensure immediate benefits like effective, time-bound and cost effective resolution of disputes, reduced burden on courts, enhance ease of doing business in India and also would also go a long way in attracting international stakeholders in our country.

The Maritime Cluster which will be home to GMAC is conceived to provide a robust platform to the members of maritime fraternity for connecting with other stakeholders in maritime trade including prominent government organisations, and enhance one’s competiveness through cooperation and support of the members in the cluster. The development of Gujarat Maritime Cluster is envisaged with the impressive presence of the leading ship owners, ship charterers, ship recyclers, ship builders, maritime consultants, key regulatory bodies, etc. Sensing the gap between demand and supply of certain key maritime services, the Gujarat Maritime Cluster has also focused on creating sound base of specialised service providers engaged in the field of Maritime Law, Maritime Insurance, Maritime Finance, etc.

The webinar witnessed participation from over 200 prominent players of the maritime and legal fraternity as well as from the wider industrial base in India and abroad.

Ms. Avantika Singh, IAS – Vice Chairman and CEO of GMB commented : Based on the decision of the High Level Committee headed by the Chief Secretary for the maritime cluster project, we are also going to strongly represent to the Government to request all the Government departments to include GMAC as the preferred mode of dispute resolution in all the commercial contracts entered into by all the Government Departments and PSUs.

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