Recent changes to the International Arbitration landscape have dramatically revitalised the competitiveness of this tool in cross-border dispute resolution. Amendments to the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law in 2006 have seen successive adoption among member states, including Australia and the release of the UNCITRAL arbitration rules has provided a push toward arbitration as the leading alternative.

With a competitive focus on providing security, flexibility and confidentiality in commercial disputes, the new UNCITRAL Rules offer a fresh breeze of pragmatism to what may otherwise have become a stale institution. Traditionally a benchmark for procedures in disputes involving states and cross-border contracts, the new Rules may now stop the gaps previously filled with domestic regulations.

The timing could not be better and Australia has responded quickly in response to the growth and demand of the Asian economies to provide a neutral location for dispute resolution. With the recent enactment of the International Arbitration Amendment Act 2010 and the establishment of the Australian Centre for International Arbitration in Sydney, Australia is now well placed to utilise its geographic advantage in the region.

As greater globalisation forces companies to contemplate legislative regimes that can better facilitate their disputes, the amendments to Australia’s suite of arbitration legislation improve the legal framework supporting the conduct of international arbitrations by implementing measures requiring the Model Law to be used to resolve international commercial disputes in Australia. By adopting international best standards on international arbitration and seeking to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of arbitration, the amendments will also assist in promoting Australia as a choice of forum for the resolution of international disputes.