Page 245 - Week 01 - Thursday, 15 December 2016

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Commercial Arbitration Bill 2016

Mr Ramsay, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR RAMSAY (Ginninderra—Attorney-General, Minister for Regulatory Services, Minister for the Arts and Community Events and Minister for Veterans and Seniors) (11.53): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to present the Commercial Arbitration Bill 2016. It is the first of four bills that I am introducing today, and I understand that Minister Gentleman has pre-empted the level of excitement with which each bill will be received. Each of the pieces is an important piece of legislation.

This bill will replace the Commercial Arbitration Act 1986 and adopt the provisions of a model uniform bill which all other states and the Northern Territory have adopted. The bill will modernise the ACT’s commercial arbitration law in line with national and international best practice. Arbitration is intended to provide parties with a private, enforceable, cost-effective and expedient means of resolving disputes. It is an attractive option for parties to large commercial disputes who also wish to maintain their corporate confidentiality throughout the process.

This bill, like the Commercial Arbitration Act 1986, does not impose arbitration on anyone. The new act will only apply to parties to a commercial dispute who have freely and expressly agreed from the outset that they wish their disputes to be settled by arbitration. By replicating the model bill, the ACT’s domestic commercial arbitration law will align with the states and the Northern Territory. The ACT law will also be aligned with the commonwealth’s International Arbitration Act 1974. The state and territory laws regulate domestic commercial arbitrations while the commonwealth act deals with international commercial arbitrations.

This bill is based on the UN Commission on International Trade Law model law on international commercial arbitration. The UN model law has been adopted by a number of other common law jurisdictions, including New Zealand and Singapore, for the regulation of commercial arbitration.

The object of the bill is to facilitate the fair and final resolution of commercial disputes by impartial tribunals without unnecessary delay or expense. The bill provides that if a dispute comes before a court and there is an arbitration agreement in relation to it, the court must refer the matter to arbitration if asked to by either party to the agreement.

Under the bill the parties have flexibility and autonomy in deciding the make-up of the arbitral tribunal. An arbitral tribunal may put in place interim measures—for

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