Nepal Council of Arbitration (NEPCA) has by now accumulated an experience of twenty two years during which it has been instrumental in establishing settlement of disputes by alternate dispute resolution (ADR) mechanism in Nepal. During this period, Arbitration Act, 1981(2038) has been replaced by Arbitration Act, 1991(2055); "NEPCA Rules for Domestic Commercial Arbitration Proceedings" has been replaced by "Rules for Arbitral Proceedings, 2003(2060); and Public Procurement Act, 2007(2063) came into force for the first time.
The fact that numbers of disputes along with their magnitude and complexities have been increasing may sound worrisome but when we go deep, in the process of dispute settlement, into the issues involved in the disputes, it is revealed that the dispute settlement process is in fact contributing to the institutional strengthening and capacity development of the various public and private agencies concerned with the economic growth. The enactment of public procurement act and formulation of public procurement rules, development of standard bidding documents by the Public Procurement Monitoring Office (PPMO), and the awareness building among lawyers and engineers for a sound preparations, procurements, and implementation of a project are positive developments in this direction.
Nevertheless, there is a lot to do in terms of enhancing the capacity in Nepal to handle construction and other disputes effectively and efficiently. In terms of pre-arbitration activities, it is necessary to develop standard bidding documents including the standard conditions of contract for contract types such as Design and Build , Turnkey/EPC, and Design Build and Operate to cope with the trend of deviation from the traditional types such as employer design type CC . Development of norms for cost estimating for non-traditional type contracts is another area of urgency.
Large and complicated contracts for infrastructures such as International Airports, Fast Tracks, Expressways , and Hydropower projects cannot run smoothly if provisions for the settlement of disputes by" binding "and "binding and final" decisions of a Dispute Board efficiently and effectively during the project implementation is not built-in in the contract agreement. Even though the decision of adjudicator or the dispute board, whether "binding" or "final - binding", may be finally referred to arbitration, the provision of settlement of dispute by adjudication or dispute board have a great potential in reducing the cost and time of dispute settlements and contract completion. Therefore the redundancy of such mechanisms must be minimized as much as possible. There are rooms for improvement in the Procurement Act and Arbitration Act. There is so much to learn from other developed institutes of arbitration, dispute board, contractor's association, and institute of engineers and architects and there is so much to do by NEPCA towards contributing to the cause of arbitration and dispute settlement in Nepal.
Improving the quality of arbitration by establishing institutional arbitration is one of the immediate term objective of NEPCA. Similarly organizing training to the project implementation officials and arbitrators relating to pre-arbitration activities and arbitration and other mechanism of dispute settlement regularly has been started by NEPCA as its second focus in the immediate term.
NEPCA is working hard to secure a significant technical assistance through the GON for establishing it as one of the centre of excellence in dispute settlement. I am hopeful that the Ninth Executive Committee of NEPCA , with due appreciation of the works of the past, will be able to leave a mark for the future.
Wish a very successful and happy New Year 2071 to all friends and well wishers of NEPCA.