Wayne Martin AC, the Chief Justice of Western Australia, recently said that for Australia to put its best foot forward in the arbitration world, it was essential “parochial rivalries” between cities be put aside.
“Invidious comparisons are made between the paucity of international commercial arbitration in Australian seats, as compared to the flourishing arbitration scenes in other better recognised seats, both in our region and further afield,” CJ Martin said.
The Chief Justice told an audience in Perth that Australia faced a unique challenge, being competition between its cities and the legal professions within those cities as a preferred place to conduct arbitration. He suggested that this was one of the factors that saw Australia punching below its weight on the international arbitration stage.
He went on to observe that Australian lawyers were over-represented in other major arbitration seats abroad, as both counsel and arbitrators. Given the talent and number of local experts, he said that that objective of advancing Australia’s standing within arbitration circles should be to further develop a more unified local arbitral profession.
“During a recent visit to London and Paris, I was struck by the number of Australian practitioners working at all levels in the field of arbitration, from the junior to the most senior, and I am sure that the same holds true of other significant arbitral centres like Singapore, Hong Kong, Beijing and so on,” CJ Martin said.
The Chief Justice made his remarks at the opening of the 5th International Arbitration Conference last November.
His praise for recent moves to restructure and rename a series of Australian arbitration events into a national program to occur across different cities as ‘Australian Arbitration Week’ also provided a platform for the Chief Justice to discuss the contributions of Western Australia.
“It was [recently] announced that Perth has been chosen as the venue to host the 2018 Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration – a program which is provided as a joint venture between the Singapore, East Asian and Australian branches of the Chartered Institute.
“The Perth program will follow similar successful programs in Singapore in 2016 and in Hong Kong last month, and can be expected to attract participants from all around the globe,” the Chief Justice added.
“The choice of Perth as the venue for next year’s program is another very significant step forward in the development and promotion of a unified Australian arbitration community.”
Pictured above (L-R): Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Australia president Caroline Kenny QC, WA Chief Justice Wayne Martin AC, Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan and Ian Nosworthy from the Law Council of Australia.