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Arbitration too litigious: Attorneys

Arbitration too litigious: Attorneys

Australia's top legal officers have agreed to push for new legislation that will ease the over-litigious nature of arbitration.

AUSTRALIA'S top legal officers have agreed to push for new legislation that will ease the over-litigious nature of arbitration.

Federal Attorney-General, Robert McClelland, and New South Wales Attorney General, John Hatzistergos, have welcomed the progress, which will see the development of new uniform commercial arbitration legislation.

There is a widespread view that arbitration has become too litigious with proceedings increasingly resembling those of a court, McClelland said.

“We want to make sure that arbitration fulfils its potential as a genuinely quick and effective way to resolve commercial disputes,” he said.

The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) in April agreed to reform the uniform Commercial Arbitration Act, a model Bill adopted by each state and territory to regulate domestic commercial arbitration.

The new model bill is scheduled to be finalised at the next meeting of SCAG in April 2010, and will be based on the internationally accepted Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL).

“The new Bill will further promote arbitration as a cost-effective and timely way of resolving commercial disputes, avoiding delays and costs that can be incurred in the courts,” Hatzistergos said on Friday.

The Commonwealth intends to introduce amendments into the Parliament before the end of the year to reform the International Arbitration Act 1974.

These reforms will ensure the Act provides a comprehensive and clear framework governing international arbitration in Australia, promotes greater efficiency in the arbitral process, and adopts international best practice in arbitration law, Hatzistergos said.

By creating a more uniform framework for regulating commercial arbitration, the reforms to the International Arbitration Act and the domestic Commercial Arbitration Acts will be an important driver in establishing Australia as key centre for international arbitration, McClelland and Hatzistergos said in a joint statement.

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