A high-powered delegation is speaking to Chinese business leaders in Beijing this afternoon (13 October) to convince them to use Australia for international arbitration.
Clayton Utz partner Doug Jones will be joined at the Beijing American Club by Justice James Allsop, the president of the NSW Court of Appeal, and Ivan Kinsella, an Austrade Trade Commissioner in Beijing. The trio will address the topic of International Arbitration in Australia: What Chinese Business Needs to know.
"It is very important for Chinese business leaders to understand the level of support the Australian Government is giving to international arbitration in Australia and that if they come to Australia, they will find a judiciary familiar with arbitration and supportive of the process," said Jones, who is also the president of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.
The delegation was organised by the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration and is attempting to drum up business for the Australian International Disputes Centre (AIDC), which opened in Sydney just over one year ago.
The AIDC is now a rival to the more established international commercial arbitration houses in Singapore, Hong Kong and Europe.
While Jones conceded that Chinese companies preferred to use China or Hong Kong for commercial arbitration matters, the increasingly global outlook of many Chinese firms has increased the flow of cross border work, and the international counterparty to a business transaction will often want to insert a neutral venue for arbitration into contract clauses.
"Australia is clearly neutral," said Jones. 'Counterparts to Chinese companies [on international commercial transactions] are sometimes concerned that neither Hong Kong or Singapore is significantly neutral because of existing connections with China. We can offer Chinese parties a suite of arbitration services that includes a modern arbitration law, a supportive judiciary and the infrastructure to support arbitration."
Jones said that the increasing importance of the Asia-Pacific region in global trade flows meant that international commercial arbitration houses in the Asia-Pacific, including the AIDC, were hearing more matters.
Jones flew to Beijing after giving a presentation in New York on Monday (10 October). Jones was joined by Holman Fenwick Willan partner Alex Baykitch and Justice Lindsay Foster of the Federal Court of Australia in speaking to American lawyers about Australia's international commercial arbitration system.
The event was hosted by Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, with Jones also separately meeting senior lawyers from Shearman & Sterling, White & Case and Debevoise & Plimpton.