15 Dec 2010

Clayton Utz partner writes new guide for commercial arbitration in Australia

A proposed new book provides invaluable insight into the new domestic commercial arbitration legislation.

Projects participants are some of the greatest users of commercial arbitration, so they are more curious than most about the proposed new regime for domestic commercial arbitration in each State and Territory. A guide to the harmonised laws, Commercial Arbitration in Australia, aims to demystify the law.

In agreeing to the Commercial Arbitration Bill 2010 (Cth), the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General has begun implementing a major reform of domestic arbitration across Australia. Although the Bill is currently only enacted in New South Wales under the Commercial Arbitration Act 2010 (NSW), Tasmania has introduced the Bill into its Parliament and it is envisaged that all remaining States and Territories will follow suit.

The Bill follows the approach adopted by the recently amended International Arbitration Act 1974 (Cth) to apply the United Nations Commission on International Trade law ("UNCITRAL") Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration 1985 with amendments as adopted in 2006 ("Model Law"). The Bill is also supplemented where appropriate with provisions relevant to Australia's domestic setting and provisions adopted from the United Kingdom's Arbitration Act 1996.

This reform provides the impetus to restore arbitration to a more significant place in the Australian commercial dispute resolution scene. By adopting a new paradigm for domestic arbitration, and by aligning it to the international arbitration regime, users and lawyers alike will be able to devise new and more effective ways to resolve domestic commercial disputes. This has occurred at a time when there is a momentum in encouraging international parties to choose Australian seats for international commercial arbitration. The restoration of domestic arbitration as the preferred form of binding non-curial dispute resolution within a legislative regime reflecting international best practice will provide the opportunity for Australian dispute practitioners to more effectively compete for international arbitration work locally and internationally.

Written by the head of Clayton Utz's Construction and Major Projects group, Professor Doug Jones AM, the new book will provide readers with an accompaniment to the reforms by not only commenting on the new provisions, but by providing an explanation of the changes to the law and practice which have taken place. The book also analyses Australian case-law on arbitration law and practice, international case-law influenced by the UNCITRAL Model Law, and discusses arbitration in the context of alternative forms of dispute resolution.

The book provides invaluable insight into the new domestic legislative regime and will prove to play a significant role in developing general practice and judicial attitudes towards commercial arbitration nationwide. It is undeniably a "must have" item for anyone involved in commercial dispute resolution in Australia whether as a party to an arbitration, legal practitioner, academic or student.

The book is due for release by Thomson Reuters in February 2011 and can be purchased through its website.

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Clayton Utz communications are intended to provide commentary and general information. They should not be relied upon as legal advice. Formal legal advice should be sought in particular transactions or on matters of interest arising from this communication. Persons listed may not be admitted in all States and Territories.