Australia's quest to challenge Hong Kong and Singapore as a regional centre for arbitration received a boost with the opening of the Australian International Disputes Centre (AIDC) in Sydney today (3 August).
In launching the centre, Commonwealth Attorney-General Robert McClelland acknowledged that "reform was needed" to boost the credentials of Australia as a centre for arbitration.
"Our arbitration experts were amongst the best in the world, but that wasn't supported by the infrastructure," he said. "The establishment of the AIDC is the most significant reform in commercial arbitration over the last two decades, and establishes Australia as a significant international player."
Heather Ridout, the chief executive of the Australian Industry Group told guests at the opening that the establishment of the centre represents another "big step" in Australia's economic integration into the global economy.
"Australia is on the cusp of a whole new era," Ridout said. "Our members tell us that Asia is their number one market... and this centre will be strongly welcomed and supported by Australian and regional business."
Both McClelland and the NSW Attorney-General, John Hatzistergos, said that discussions had been conducted with The Permanent Court of Arbitration to establish Sydney as a site. The PCA has signed host country agreements with seven jurisdictions, including Argentina, Lebanon, India and Singapore.
It was also announced at the launch today that Michelle Sindler will be the new CEO of the centre.
Sindler returns to Australia after spending time in Europe as an international arbitration partner with Olswang LLP and Bar & Karrer in Switzerland. She was previously a litigation and arbitration partner with Minter Ellison for 12 years.
Dignitaries at today's launch included the former High Court Judge, Michael Kirby, the Chief Justice of the Federal Court, Patrick Keane, and the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of NSW, James Spigelman.