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Arbitration agreement Vs Agreement for decision by an expert

In the case of K.K. Modi v. K.N. Modi, (1998) 3 SCC 573, a Bench of this Court (of which one of us was a member) had the occasion to consider the essential ingredients of an arbitration clause. Among the ingredients which are described in the said judgment, two important ingredients are; that the agreement between the parties must contemplate that substantive rights of parties will be determined by the agreed Tribunal and that the Tribunal will determine the rights of the parties in an impartial and judicial manner with the Tribunal owing an equal obligation of fairness towards both sides and also that the agreement of the parties to refer their disputes to the decision of the Tribunal must be intended to be enforceable in law. There is a difference between an expert determination and arbitration.

S.K. Chawla in the Law of arbitration and Conciliation at Page 164 states as follows:

“4. arbitration agreement to be distinguished from agreement for decision by an engineer or expert, contracts may contain a clause that on certain questions the decision of an engineer, architect or another expert shall be final. The decision given in such cases by the engineer etc., is not an award. As pointed out by Bernstein, such a person is under no obligation, unless the contract otherwise provides, to receive evidence or submissions and is entitled to arrive at his decision solely upon the results of his own expertise and investigations. The procedure involved is not arbitration, and the arbitration Act does not apply to it. The primary material on which such person acts is his own knowledge and experience, supplemented if he thinks fit by

(i) his own investigations; and/or

(ii) material (which need not conform to rules of ‘evidence’) put up before him by either party.

An arbitrator on the other hand, acts primarily on material put before him by the parties. The determination by an engineer or an expert would involve a less thorough investigation. Only one mind will be brought to bear on the problem. There will be no discovery of documents, there will not normally be any oral ‘evidence’ or oral submissions.”