Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 03 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 March 2017) . . Page.. 769 ..
Clause 1 states that the paramount object of the act is “to facilitate the fair and final resolution of commercial disputes by impartial arbitral tribunals without unnecessary delay or expense”. In theory, I think the resolution of commercial disputes administered in a consistent fashion across jurisdictions is both welcome and is, of course, something that we in this place all want to see.
The opposition will, however, keep a close eye on the use of these agreements to make sure that parties are not forced to enter into them and that they are entered into willingly by all participants as the scheme is rolled out and utilised more broadly. To that end the opposition will be supporting the bill today.
MS CHEYNE (Ginninderra) (11.24): I am pleased to speak in support of the Commercial Arbitration Bill today. The Commercial Arbitration Bill introduces a new framework for commercial arbitration in the ACT. This bill will implement the UN model law, with adaptations for a domestic setting.
With this new legislation we will harmonise our commercial arbitration framework with all other Australian states and the Northern Territory. This means companies around Australia and around the world will be familiar with how commercial arbitration works in the ACT. It will also minimise compliance costs and forum shopping caused by having a different system in the ACT.
Having an effective arbitration regime provides companies with an attractive alternative to litigation. The importance of our courts cannot be understated, but commercial litigation can result in complex and protracted proceedings that can be very resource intensive. If the parties to a commercial dispute are able to agree on the terms of arbitration, these matters can stay out of the courts. With this in mind, this bill will introduce an arbitration regime that is a modern, flexible and efficient system of commercial arbitration.
The paramount object of this arbitration regime is stated as being “to facilitate the fair and final resolution of commercial disputes by impartial arbitral tribunals without unnecessary delay or expense”. Having fair and final arbitration as part of a suite of dispute resolution mechanisms has significant benefits.
As I mentioned, litigation can be an expensive and protracted exercise. Companies may lose significant trade and goodwill in this period due to media scrutiny and business uncertainty. The model arbitration framework in this bill, on the other hand, is characterised by efficiency and control, privacy and confidentiality, specialist expertise, and limited appeals.
First and foremost, the bill establishes an arbitration regime that prioritises the fair and efficient resolution of disputes. The bill stipulates that parties must be treated with equality, and must be given a reasonable opportunity to present their case. Against that backdrop, the parties are free to agree on how their arbitration will be conducted. This allows significant flexibility, as procedures can be tailored to the needs and goals of the parties.