Back to Bizweek
Latest News

“The IORA project is building up a network of all the different arbitral institutions in the region”

NEETI SACHDEVA, Registrar of MCIA, India

In an interview with BIZWEEK, Neeti Sachdeva, Registrar of the Mauritius Chamber of International Arbitration (MCIA), and India’s representative for a ground-breaking project within the Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA), shares her insights on the inaugural symposium focused on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) for the IORA region. As a pivotal figure in the IORA Special Fund project aimed at fostering a network of arbitral institutions across member countries, Mrs. Sachdeva highlights the strategic importance of dialogue and consultation in shaping effective arbitration mechanisms within the region. Moreover, she underscores Mauritius’ emerging role as a preferred jurisdiction for arbitration, particularly in facilitating neutral and cost-effective resolution of disputes arising from bilateral contractual relationships between Indian and African companies. Mrs. Sachdeva’s perspectives shed light on the significance of Mauritius’ unique legal framework and its potential to nurture a robust arbitration culture, resonating with the evolving needs of international trade and investment.

What is your assessment of the first symposium on ADR for the IORA region?

I was a part of this IORA Special Fund project, which was to create a network of arbitral institutions within the IORA countries, and one of the mandates that we had was to do a consultation report. We will launch the consultation report and keep a dialogue on how arbitrations need to be done within the IORA region.

I have been on the project from the very first day as India’s representative. This is really a stepping stone, or as the Secretary General of IORA said today, it’s a building block from where we’re going to build up to create a network of all the different arbitral institutions in this region.

As you may know, IORA is actually the region where you have the maximum trade today. So, you need to have arbitral institutions interacting with each other, making sure that you resolve disputes here. We also want to do a capacity building in those countries which don’t have any arbitral institution.

This has been a very successful trip of mine to Mauritius. I’m very glad to be here.


How do you see Mauritius as a jurisdiction for arbitration?

I was talking to the Attorney General of Mauritius, who is also the Minister of Foreign Affairs, and I was telling him that I think Mauritius has a very important role to play. If you look at today’s economic landscape, it is India who is investing heavily in Africa.

The African continent is receiving a lot of investments, and where there are investments, there are disputes, and bound-to-happen disputes. When an Indian company or an African continent company is looking at having a bilateral contractual relationship, they’re always looking at a neutral place to go and have a dispute resolved. Mauritius, in that sense, comes out to be a very neutral place, which is still cost-sensitive. It’s not as expensive as Singapore or London or ICC Paris.

Secondly, it has a very unique advantage, which is that it is both a common law and a civil law jurisdiction. India is a common law country, and you have a lot of African countries who are civil law countries, and Mauritius has a mix of both the legal systems. This is going to give confidence to both the sides, to say that we can resolve our disputes in Mauritius. I think that Mauritius just needs to go out there, talk a lot more about it. One of the reasons why we are here is to support the jurisdiction to develop the arbitration culture.

When an Indian company or an African continent company is looking at having a bilateral contractual relationship, they’re always looking at a neutral place to go and have a dispute resolved. Mauritius comes out to be a very neutral place, which is still cost-sensitive

You moderated a panel discussion on Investment Disputes and Arbitration. What were the key features of the discussion?

I think investment arbitration is one area where there’s been a lot of talks which have happened, and it’s always a question of whether it’s the host state which has an advantage, or whether it is an investor who has an advantage. I think that the pendulum just keeps swinging from one way to the other. We had a more holistic discussion on the kinds of Bilateral Investment Treaties (BITs), on what the expectations of an investor are. So that’s the key takeaway from this session.


The panellists also had an interesting discussion on how tough it is to have an ADR against a State. Can you enlighten us on this?

I’m not an investment arbitration expert, I do commercial arbitration, but if you were to trace the history of investment arbitration 20 years back, one would say it is difficult to get an award against a State, but it is not so now. For example, there’s an Indian company which has just won an investment award against the State of Mauritius. Like one of our panellists was saying, countries are also very conscious that they need to honour these awards, because they want to create an environment which is a safe haven for investment. So, I don’t think it’s that difficult to get your awards enforced, but then, of course, the same principle doesn’t apply to every country, to every investment. But more or less, I think the countries which are facilitating investments in their jurisdiction are usually happy to enforce the awards.

Skip to content