To promote the Gujarat International Maritime Arbitration Centre (GIMAC), a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) has been signed by the Gujarat Maritime University with the International Financial Services Centres Authority in GIFT City on 21 June 2021. This is going to be the first of its kind centre in India that will manage arbitration as well as mediation proceedings with disputes related to the maritime and shipping sector. According to an IE report, the GIMAC will be part of a maritime cluster that is being set up by the Gujarat Maritime Board (GMB) in GIFT City at Gandhinagar, Gujarat. With the clearance from the development commissioner, the Maritime Board has rented nearly 10,000 sq ft at GIFT House which is part of the Special Economic Zone (SEZ) area. The GIMAC is expected to be ready by the August end.
Why is GIMAC needed?
In India, there are over 35 arbitration centres. However, none of these centres deals exclusively with the maritime sector. According to the report, the arbitration involving players from India is now heard at the Singapore Arbitration Centre. The plan is to come up with a world-class arbitration centre focused on disputes of the maritime and shipping sector that can help resolve financial and commercial conflicts between entities having operations in India. Globally, for arbitration for the maritime and shipping sector, London is the preferred centre.
Avantika Singh, Vice Chairman and CEO of GMB, was quoted in the report saying that the maritime cluster comprising ship leasing as well as brokering services is being established with the intention of drawing back all the business of maritime and shipping sector, which is located offshore like Singapore and Dubai. According to Singh, arbitration is an add-on maritime service that they are trying to provide within the Gujarat Maritime cluster that is being developed within GIFT City. The centre is needed because, for instance, the ship owners belong to another country and the person leasing the ship is from a different nation. If any dispute arises between them, it can be resolved within this centre, Singh added.
What is the project’s current status?
Currently, the staff recruiting process for the arbitration centre is underway. In the next couple of months, a panel of arbitrators will be selected. An advisory board for GIMAC, comprising 10 members including international experts and professionals, has been created. The board will help in the framing of rules for the arbitration centre as well as in empanelling arbitrators. The Director of Gujarat Maritime University- Prof S Shanthakumar has been appointed as GIMAC’s Director.