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Rising opportunities for international arbitrators in Darwin

Proximity to Asia and global movements means it is an exciting time – as well as a challenging one – to work in the international arbitration space in the Northern Territory, according to one barrister.

user iconJerome Doraisamy 18 October 2018 Big Law
Professional opportunities  international arbitrators
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Speaking to Lawyers Weekly, Darwin-based William Forster Chambers barrister Duncan McConnel said Northern Territory lawyers are geographically closer to Timor Leste and Indonesia and, increasingly, their clients may be looking to do business in those countries.

“By becoming skilled in international commercial arbitration, lawyers can provide advice and representation to their clients under an internationally-sanctioned and developed system of dispute resolution without the need to navigate the very different legal systems of those countries,” he said.

“Our physical proximity to Singapore means that NT lawyers have the potential to expand into this rapidly growing practice area, either for clients or as arbitrators.”


International commercial arbitration is one of the “fastest growing areas of legal work”, he noted, because such agreements – by their nature – involve multiple jurisdictions, traditional forms of litigation can be plagued with issues related to jurisdiction, language and sometimes completely conflicting legal systems.

“By choosing international commercial arbitration under the New York Convention, parties to such agreements have choice over the jurisdiction and process of any disputes that arise,” he argued.

“As a non-traditional form of litigation, and without binding precedent, it can be a new and challenging way of legal practice.”

“However, it presents opportunities for lawyers to be involved in fast-tracked, resolution-focused dispute resolution practice with greater control over the process than in traditional litigation.”

For young lawyers coming through the ranks in NT, it may be a particularly enticing vocational path, he noted, because increasingly, alternative dispute resolution systems are being used to achieve a fast and economic outcome in litigation.

“Most courts have mandatory mediation between the parties as a step in litigation because it achieves finality. Disputes which raise jurisdictional issues have the potential to become dragged out and any prospect of a just and economic resolution can be easily lost,” he said.

“International arbitration is an emerging form of dispute resolution with distinct advantages over traditional forms of litigation and clients are increasingly aware of those advantages.”

“Lawyers who want to represent their commercial clients across the full range of their activities, particularly if they are expanding into international activity, need to know about international arbitration,” he concluded.

Mr McConnel’s comments come ahead of the William Forster Chambers conference on international arbitration in Australia and Asia next week.