find the latest legal job
Corporate/Commercial Lawyers (2-5 years PAE)
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Specialist commercial law firm · Long-term career progression
View details
Graduate Lawyer / Up to 1.5 yr PAE Lawyer
Category: Personal Injury Law | Location: Brisbane CBD & Inner Suburbs Brisbane QLD
· Mentoring Opportunity in Regional QLD · Personal Injury Law
View details
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Govt backing needed to make Aus an arbitration hub: SC

Govt backing needed to make Aus an arbitration hub: SC


Australia has little hope of challenging Singapore’s primacy as a venue for international arbitration without significant financial support from the federal government, says an Australian Law Awards judge.

Singapore has positioned itself as the ‘go to’ place for international arbitration in Asia-Pacific, with the number of cases almost tripling in the past decade. 

“Individual people have tried to promote Australia as a venue, but we are almost lone voices and if we don't have the support and backing – particularly financial backing – there is little we can do,” said Rashda Rana SC.

“One of the big differences is the Singapore Government has thrown lots of money at promoting itself, whereas the Australian Government hasn't.”

She said support from state governments was not sufficient to raise Australia's profile in international arbitration, and that the federal government must take the lead.

Ms Rana is an English barrister at London’s Essex Chambers. She is working in Singapore, but has lived in Australia.

She spoke to Lawyers Weekly ahead of the Australian Law Awards – submissions close soon.

Ms Rana said Australia would be a “fabulous place” for international arbitration, but suffers from a perceived geographical handicap.

“Australia has tried very hard to promote itself as the hub, but it just hasn't taken off,” she said.

“One of the reasons I hear over and over again is [that] Australia is too far. It is just another hurdle, another step on an airplane.

“Singapore, just by its geography, is ideally located with not just [within] Asia – it also picks up India easily, even parts of Eastern Europe.”

Singapore has several institutions devoted to international arbitration and dispute resolution, including the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, the Singapore Mediation Centre and the Singapore International Commercial Court.

Australian arbitrators are among the top 10 nationalities to use the International Arbitration Centre, but fall behind arbitrators from Singapore and Britain.

“In some ways the Australian barristers came to [international arbitration] very late in the day, because English barristers have been doing it for years – decades,” Ms Rana said.

London, like Singapore, is often nominated by commercial clients as the location for international arbitrations.

Ms Rana said it did not make sense for Australian businesses to choose Singapore over Australia as a centre for dispute resolution.

“A lot of clients, for instance in Western Australia, just go to Singapore to do their cases,” she said. “Well, why aren't those cases being dealt with in Australia?

“Everyone – the clients, the solicitors, the barristers, the politicians – has to band together and be prepared to push for that work to come here.”

Tricks of the trade

Ms Rana has moved around throughout her career, working in Malaysia, Singapore, Hong Kong and Seoul, as well as Australia and Britain.

She speaks conversational French and Italian and is “quite proficient” in German and Urdu.

Her experience spans commercial, maritime and construction, oil and energy and infrastructure litigation, arbitration and mediation.

The key to building a successful practice in different jurisdictions is to focus on relationships, according to Ms Rana.

“There is a misconception among Australian barristers, which is that if they just rock up in another jurisdiction and say ‘I'm an Australian barrister, you need me’, somehow people will throw work at them.

“It doesn't work like that – particularly in Asia, where it is relationship based. You need to build relationships first before you can get the work.”

Ms Rana said breaking into new jurisdictions was challenging, but that she had received significant support from her chambers back home.

“English chambers are a bit more active in marketing and promotion than Australian chambers,” she said.

“We have real working clerks and a real working marketing department, so I'm not doing it as a lone wolf. I have the full force of chambers behind me.”

Ms Rana has two tips for junior barristers hoping to walk in her footstep: “Just be yourself, because people need to get to know the real person, not the pretend facade of some great barrister. That's how you build relationships.

“And work hard. There is no substitute for hard work.”

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Govt backing needed to make Aus an arbitration hub: SC
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Dec 18 2017
Summer in the city
Across Australia, a number of law students have kicked off their commercial law aspirations with the...
Dec 18 2017
‘Exorbitant legal fees’ under government microscope
With the growing number of class action proceedings in Australia, the government is looking at how ...
Funds, money, cash
Dec 18 2017
Law Access WA receives welcome funding
Law Access Western Australia has received a grant from the state government to fund its pro bono leg...
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...