On 14 March 2013, the Commercial Arbitration Act 2013 (Act) was passed in Queensland. This Act brings Queensland into line with all States and Territories (except for the Australian Capital Territory) that have enacted the uniform legislation.
In 2009, in response to criticism that arbitration had become too litigious, the former Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) agreed to draft new uniform commercial arbitration legislation based on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration, supplemented by any additional provisions as necessary or appropriate for domestic arbitration.
In 2010, the SCAG agreed to implement a model Commercial Arbitration Bill 2010 to modernise and update the uniform Commercial Arbitration Acts in all States and Territories. New South Wales was first to enact the updated Commercial Arbitration Act in 2010 with most other States and Territories enacting the legislation in 2011.
There was an attempt to introduce the bill in Queensland in 2011. However, the bill lapsed upon the dissolution of parliament for the general election in 2011. The passing of this Act brings the harmonisation of national commercial arbitration laws one step closer to being complete.
The Act applies to domestic arbitration only. The Commonwealth International Arbitration Act 1974 governs international commercial arbitration.
The Act adopts international and national standards for arbitrating commercial disputes. This means that Queensland, along with other adopting States and Territories, can offer commercial arbitration services to businesses operating in Australia in an efficient and cost-effective manner, in accordance with international best practice.
This legislation will be important to Queensland's growth industries, including oil, gas, engineering, construction, shipping and finance as commercial arbitration is often used to resolve disputes in these areas.
This Act will come into force on a day yet to be fixed by proclamation.