Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration president Doug Jones has called on the Government to revive domestic arbitration by adopting the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.
Speaking on Friday at the "International Commercial Arbitration: Effective, Efficient, Economical" conference, hosted by the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA), Jones said that - following the recent proposed reforms to international arbitration under the International Arbitration Act 1974 - the Government should follow suit on the domestic arbitration front.
Currently, the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General is in the process of drafting a new model law for domestic arbitration. This is to be completed by its next meeting in April 2010.
Jones, who is also a partner at Clayton Utz, said that domestic arbitration has fallen behind other forms of alternative dispute resolution as an effective means of resolving disputes.
"In many instances it is less cost effective than commercial court proceedings in a number of states. Accordingly, there is a need for a paradigm shift in the way in which domestic arbitration is practised in Australia," he said.
In particular, Jones said that excessive judicial intervention in domestic arbitration process has been a key obstacle to its effectiveness and that minimising judicial intervention should a reform priority.
In addition, he noted that domestic arbitration was often criticised for being too similar to the judicial process, rather than being viewed, and practised, as a quicker and more cost-effective alternative.
Accordingly, he proposed legislative amendments to make it clear that arbitration was intended to be, and should be, a different process to court proceedings, and that the objective of arbitration was "speed, efficiency and cost effectiveness".
He said that reform to domestic arbitration laws would enable Australians to be able to access a "more efficient and less expensive arbitration process".
The "International Commercial Arbitration: Effective, Efficient, Economical" conference brought together delegates from Europe, the Middle East and Asia. Other speakers included Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland and former High Court justice Michael Kirby.