International Arbitration in Australia edited by Luke Nottage and Richard Garnett (Federation Press, 2010)
Reviewed by Sally Fitzgerald, partner, Russell McVeagh
I review this book having just taken delivery of, and already making extensive use of, another new text in the field of international arbitration, Williams and Kawharu on Arbitration. That text, quite a hefty tome, is an ‘end to end’ review of the arbitral process (both domestic and international) in New Zealand. International Arbitration in Australia is a slimmer body of work, being a collection of specialist essays on various topics relating to the development of international arbitration in Australia. The editors, and their very learned contributors, are to be commended for an extremely knowledgeable and detailed exposition of the various topics.
The text starts with a reasonably detailed introduction to the history and evolution of international arbitration in Australia. Chapter two builds on this, and is a useful overview of the legal framework for international arbitration in Australia. This chapter will no doubt be a useful first port of call for anyone seeking to foray into the world of international arbitration in Australia. I particularly liked chapter three, “Enforcement of Foreign Awards in Australia and New Zealand”, which will be a useful source for any practitioner grappling with an application to refuse enforcement of a foreign arbitral award in either New Zealand or Australia.
The remaining chapters (4 through to 11) address more specialised topics, ranging from the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA) Rules of 2005, to ICC arbitration and Australia, to revising investor state arbitration rules in Australia and Japan. Any practitioner engaged in an arbitration under the ACICA Rules would be well advised to consult chapters four and five for specialist and strategic knowledge as to their operation. Chapter nine is an excellent overview of Australia’s investment treaty programme and investor state arbitration, which is quite a hot topic at the moment (there has even been an investment treaty arbitral tribunal recently sitting in New Zealand).
If I had one (small) criticism of the text, it is that, presumably as a consequence of the timing of its publication being very close to the significant reforms made to international arbitration laws in Australia, a number of the essays were written prior to those reforms, and have been updated to reflect them. In a small number of places, this can leave one (very) slightly confused as to the current state of the law on particular matters. (For example, the chapter entitled “The Top Twenty Things to Change in or around Australia’s International Arbitration Act”, contains a series of footnoting to reference back to explanations in the introductory sections as to what key changes have in fact been made.) As noted, however, this is a minor criticism only.
One might ask why a book on international arbitration in Australia will be relevant to practitioners in New Zealand. However, for anyone in New Zealand who is involved in an international arbitration, or interested in this fascinating area of practice, the text will be a worthy addition to the bookshelf.
NZLawyer \\ issue 181 \\ 5 April 2012