The President of India on 3 May 2018 gave his assent to the ordinance (Ordinance) amending the Commercial Courts, Commercial Division and Commercial Appellate Division of High Courts Act, 2015 (Act). By way of background, the Act was enacted with an intention of faster resolution of matters in relation to commercial disputes thereby creating a positive outlook for foreign investors.
Key changes introduced by the Ordinance are as follows:
- The Act has been renamed to ‘Commercial Courts Act, 2015’.
- The scope of matters over which a Commercial Court will have jurisdiction has been increased by reducing the ‘specified value’ of a commercial dispute from INR 10,000,000 (Indian Rupees ten million) to INR 300,000 (Indian Rupees three hundred thousand).
- The State Governments are now empowered to establish Commercial Courts at the district level even in those territories over which High Courts have ordinary original civil jurisdiction. The State Governments can specify the pecuniary value of such commercial disputes to be adjudicated at the district level which shall not be less than INR 300,000 (Indian Rupees three hundred thousand) and not more than pecuniary jurisdiction of the district court.
- All appeals where the High Courts have ordinary original civil jurisdiction whether from the Commercial Courts established at the district level or from the Commercial Division of a High Court shall be adjudicated by the Commercial Appellate Division of that High Court. In cases where the High Courts do not have ordinary original civil jurisdiction, all appeals whether from Commercial Courts established at the district level or Commercial Courts established below the district level shall be adjudicated by Commercial Appellate Division of the High Court and Commercial Appellate Court respectively.
- A new section has been inserted in the Act in relation to ‘Pre-Institution Mediation and Settlement’. The section introduces the concept of mediation and settlement wherein if a suit does not contemplate urgent interim relief, the plaintiff has to undergo pre-institution mediation. A settlement arrived pursuant to this section will have the same status and effect as that of an arbitral award passed under the Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996.
- The Central Government has been empowered by a new section to make rules for carrying out the provisions of the Act.
The full text of the Ordinance may be accessed at: