A who's who of judicial and arbitration figures was in attendance at the launch of the definitive tome of commercial arbitration laws in Australia last night (4 May).
Attorney-General Robert McClelland provided the keynote address at the launch of Commercial Arbitration in Australia, authored by senior Clayton Utz partner Doug Jones, in the firm's boardroom in Sydney.
"These developments [in commercial arbitration] are as a result of the drive of a number of committed people, but none more so than Doug Jones," McClelland said. "That enthusiasm for reform of commercial arbitration laws means that we are literally entering a new era."
Jones' book deals with the development of commercial arbitration over the past two decades. In particular, it focuses on the decision of the Standing Committees of Attorneys-General (SCAG) to adopt the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) model to govern Australia's domestic commercial arbitration system. Jones was a key figure in both this development and in the creation of the
Australian International Disputes Centre (AIDC) in Sydney last year.
"My passion for domestic arbitration started in 1973 with the introduction in Queensland, where I started practice, of what was then regarded as a revolutionary arbitration act, different, as Queensland is in many ways, to the rest of Australia," Jones said.
In commenting on the recent reforms of commercial arbitration in Australia, Jones described them as being "generational".
"Real reform of the process will only be achieved with the combined support of dispute resolution practitioners, lawyers, their clients and the availability of deploying suitable dispute resolution processes different to court proceedings, expeditious, designed to suit the particular dispute, and fair. Without the support of all of those, it will be very difficult indeed for reform to succeed."
Jones also thanked his family and Clayton Utz for their support in helping to get the book published.
Notable legal figures who attended last night's event included soon-to-be retired NSW Chief Justice James Spigelman, Federal Court Chief Justice Patrick Keane, Trevor Morling QC, Barry O'Keefe QC and former NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos.
"Doug Jones has invested an enormous amount of time in commercial arbitration in Australia and helped put Australia on the map internationally," Hatzistergos told Lawyers Weekly.
Commercial Arbitration in Australia is published by Thomson Reuters and retails for $150.