Arbitration in India has gained significant traction as a preferred mode of dispute resolution due to its efficiency, flexibility, and confidentiality. Central to the arbitration process is the tribunal secretary, whose role is pivotal in ensuring the smooth functioning of arbitration proceedings. This article aims to delve into the definition, roles, functions, and legal framework surrounding tribunal secretaries in Indian arbitration, with reference to pertinent Indian laws and sections.

Definition of Tribunal Secretaries:

Tribunal secretaries, often referred to as administrative secretaries or tribunal assistants, are individuals appointed to assist arbitral tribunals in conducting arbitration proceedings. Their role primarily involves providing administrative support, facilitating communication between the tribunal and the parties, organizing hearings, managing documents, and performing other tasks as delegated by the tribunal.

Roles and Functions of Tribunal Secretaries:

  1. Administrative Support: Tribunal secretaries assist in organizing and managing arbitration proceedings, including scheduling hearings, coordinating with parties and their representatives, and maintaining records of the arbitration process.
  2. Document Management: They play a crucial role in managing documentary evidence submitted by parties, maintaining confidentiality, and ensuring that all documents are properly filed and accessible to the tribunal.
  3. Legal Research and Analysis: Tribunal secretaries may be tasked with conducting legal research and analysis on issues relevant to the arbitration, assisting the tribunal in understanding complex legal matters, and drafting procedural orders or other documents as directed.
  4. Language Assistance: In international arbitrations involving parties from different linguistic backgrounds, tribunal secretaries may assist in translation and interpretation, ensuring effective communication between all parties involved.
  5. Drafting Minutes and Awards: They often prepare minutes of tribunal meetings and assist in drafting procedural orders, interim measures, and the final arbitral award under the guidance and supervision of the tribunal.
  6. Maintaining Impartiality and Confidentiality: Tribunal secretaries are expected to maintain strict impartiality and confidentiality throughout the arbitration process, adhering to ethical standards similar to those expected of arbitrators.

Legal Framework in India:

  1. Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996: The Arbitration and Conciliation Act, 1996 (the Act) governs arbitration proceedings in India. While the Act does not specifically address the role of tribunal secretaries, it provides the framework within which arbitration proceedings are conducted, including the appointment and functions of arbitrators.
  2. Indian Contract Act, 1872: Provisions of the Indian Contract Act, 1872, are often invoked in arbitration proceedings to interpret and enforce contractual obligations between parties.
  3. Code of Civil Procedure, 1908: Certain procedural aspects of arbitration, such as enforcement of arbitral awards, are governed by the provisions of the Code of Civil Procedure, 1908.
  4. Institutional Rules: Many arbitration institutions in India, such as the Indian Council of Arbitration (ICA), the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), and the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA) India, have their own rules and guidelines governing arbitration proceedings, which may include provisions regarding the appointment and role of tribunal secretaries.


Tribunal secretaries play a vital role in ensuring the efficient and effective conduct of arbitration proceedings in India. While the legal framework governing arbitration in India does not explicitly address the role of tribunal secretaries, their functions are integral to the smooth functioning of arbitral tribunals. Clear guidelines regarding the appointment, duties, and ethical standards applicable to tribunal secretaries would contribute to greater transparency and accountability in arbitration proceedings, further enhancing India’s status as a preferred arbitration destination.

Adv. Khanak Sharma

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