The central administrations of the University of Hong Kong and the University of Sydney have provided A$17,000 each for this joint research project over 2019, centred around two conferences at HKU on Monday 15 July and at USydney on Monday 18 November. The lead co-investigators are respectively A/Prof Shahla Ali and Prof Luke Nottage. Below we set out the project’s Aims, Significance and Outcomes. Further updates are expected on this Blog.
Written by: Ana Ubilava (PhD in Law candidate) and Prof Luke Nottage
[This is a version of a submission to the Attorney-General’s Department in response to the call by ICSID to comment on its comprehensive draft revisions to its rules governing various types of investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) procedures.]
In August this year the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) announced its fourth and most extensive changes to dispute resolution rules, to date. The proposed amendments only concern the rules and not the Convention itself. ICSID Additional Facility (AF) rules will now be applicable to cases where neither respondent nor claimant is the ICSID Contracting State or national of a Contracting State, whereas previously at least one side had to be a (national of a) Contracting State. Thus, these dispute settlement facilities will be more widely available world-wide.
These proposals are important not only due to their scale, but also some unique aspects. ICSID is proposing a new dispute settlement mechanism, the Mediation Rules, deemed to be part of the ICSID AF Rules. These will be the first set of institutional rules for investor-state mediation (ISM) released by the world’s main arbitral institution for investment disputes. The International Bar Association published ISM Rules in 2012 but so far these seem to have had little impact in practice. The new ICSID Rules are likely to have more impact, but States like Australia should do more than just agree to AF Rules in its investment treaties or contracts.
Written by: Luke Nottage (USydney) & Nobumichi Teramura (UNSW, PhD candidate)
With some fanfare, on the sidelines of the ICCA Congress hosted in Sydney over 15-18 April, the Australian Trade and Investment Commission (Austrade) unveiled a glossy brochure entitled “Australia’s Capability in International Commercial Arbitration”. This blog posting explains its key contents, identifying both convincing and unconvincing aspects. Our later blog posting will compare Japan as another Asia-Pacific jurisdiction that is similarly still struggling to attract many international commercial arbitration (ICA) cases.
Guest blog written by: Nobumichi Teramura (UNSW PhD in Law candidate)
Ongoing dramatic geopolitical transitions in the world have inevitably impacted on the international business environment of the Asia-Pacific region. This requires Australia and other countries in the region to re-examine their legal infrastructure for transnational business disputes. Convergence and divergence of legal systems of competing and sometimes cooperating states in the Asia-Pacific require the Australian government and other stakeholders to address unprecedented legal complexities in private to private, private to public, and public to public commercial dispute resolution.
On 19 April 2018, the Sydney Centre for International Law (SCIL) at the University of Sydney Law School organised a post-ICCA symposium: “International Commercial Dispute Resolution for the 21st Century: Australian Perspectives”. The symposium, the second recently with the University of Western Australia (UWA) Law School and also supported by Transnational Dispute Management (TDM), brought together leading experts in international arbitration, investment law and international business law from all over the world. They examined broad and perhaps increasingly overlapping fields such as investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) in a changing legal and political environment, cross-border litigation in the Asian region, other international commercial dispute resolution mechanisms (arbitration and mediation), and inter-state dispute settlement.
[Update of 22 August 2018: the JSCOT Report No 181 recommending CPTPP ratification is now available. It refers to this Submission, my oral evidence given at hearings in Sydney (transcribed here), and further statistical information jointly with PhD student Ana Ubilava (incorporated also into an article for the Sept 2018 issue of the Intl Arb L Rev).]
The Trans-Pacific Partnership was signed in February 2016 by Australia, Japan, the US and 9 other Asia-Pacific countries, but the new Trump Administration withdrew signature in January 2017, so the remaining 11 re-signed a variant (TPP11 or CPTPP) in March 2018. Inquiries into ratification are now being conducted by the the Australian Parliament’s Joint Standing Committee on Treaties (JSCOT, where the Government always had a majority of members, so will almost certainly recommend ratification) and the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee in the Senate (where the Government lacks a majority overall). The Inquiry reports do not bind the Government anyway, so the big question remains: will the opposition Labour Party subsequently vote with the Government to enact tariff reductions consistently with this treaty, to allow the Government then to ratify the treaty so it can come into force?
A particular stumbling block will remain the TPP11’s investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) provisions, given as an option additional to inter-state arbitration for investors directly to enforce substantive commitments offered by host states to protect foreign investment, given that the Labour Party’s policy remains opposed to including ISDS in treaties. Despite that policy position, going back to the the Gillard Government Trade Policy Statement in 2011 (in force until Labour lost power in 2013), the Labour Opposition nonetheless voted pragmatically with the Government to allow FTAs containing ISDS to come into force with Korea and China.
Below is my Submission to both Parliamentary Committees, focusing on the investment chapter and supporting ratification of the TPP11. It is based in part on my latest paper with A/Prof Amokura Kawharu focusing on recent ISDS cases and investment treaties (re)negotiated by Australia, and New Zealand where a new Labour Government has also renounced ISDS for future treaties, but pragmatically agreed to rather minimal changes to ISDS and the investment chapter overall in TPP11. The footnoted original versions of the Submission, available by the Committee websites, refer to some of my other recent writings concluding a 4-year ARC cross-institutional research project on international investment dispute management. One is a 21-chapter book on ‘International Investment Treaties and Arbitration Across Asia‘, launched by former Chief Justice Robert French on Thursday 13 April as part of a SCIL-supported symposium on international commercial dispute resolution, including Australian perspectives.
Written by: Luke Nottage & (Kobe University Law Faculty Prof) James Claxton
[This is an non-hyperlinked / unfootnoted version of a posting published by the Kluwer Arbitration Blog on 26 January 2018.]
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe himself is certainly back – having led the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) to a fifth consecutive election in October 2017. If Abe remains in power for another three years, he will become the longest serving Japanese prime minister since World War II. Although the electorate probably responded mostly to his government’s hawkish security policy, given the recent sabre-rattling from North Korea, voters also seem to be giving the government the benefit of the doubt on his “Abenomics” economic policy. Introduced after the LDP regained power in 2012, Abenomics involves shooting “three arrows” – for monetary, fiscal and structural reform – to try to jumpstart the Japanese economy out of its lethargic performance since the “bubble economy” burst in 1991.
Against this political backdrop, and Abe’s ambitious announcement in 2013 that “Japan is back” on the world stage, some LDP policy-makers recently have proposed enhancing Japan as regional hub for international dispute resolution services. On 18 May 2017 the Nikkei Asian Review announced: “Japan to Open Center for International Business Arbitration”, which:
… could be set up as early as this year in Tokyo. Lawyer groups, corporations and other private-sector actors will take the lead in its operation. The Japan Commercial Arbitration Association [JCAA] could use the facility as its base while mediating international corporate disputes. Similar associations from other countries may use it as well.
Japan’s Foreign Ministry, Justice Ministry and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry [METI] will have joint jurisdiction over the new center. They will provide institutional support, such as by crafting necessary legislation and providing staff training.
The Australian parliament is now reviewing a Bill including four further amendments to its International Arbitration Act, after enacting two other sets of amendments in 2015. These mostly correct for drafting errors or uncertainties that have become apparent since much more extensive amendments in 2010, which included almost all the 2006 revisions to the 1985 UNCITRAL Model Law template originally adopted by Australia in 1989. By contrast, Japan adopted the 1985 UNCITRAL Model Law template only in 2003, as part of a much broader package of justice system reforms, and has not updated its legislation at all since 2003.
Such diverging approaches across the region are examined in a forthcoming book on “The Developing World of Arbitration: A Comparative Study of Arbitration Reform in the Asia Pacific“, co-edited for Hart by Hong Kong University Professors Gu Weixia and Anselmo Reyes (also formerly a judge). I was pleased to be invited to become a secondary author for the Japan chapter, with Nobumichi Teramura, a Doshisha University graduate now completing his PhD at UNSW. His main supervisor, Prof Leon Trakman, is authoring the chapter on Australia.
Below is my outline of the recent and pending amendments in Australia, with an abridged version (containing hyperlinks to further reference material) published on 13 May 2017 by the Kluwer Arbitration Blog.
The future of investment treaties, especially as part of “mega-regional” free trade agreements like the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), has become very uncertain given the isolationist volte-face of the Trump Administration. This project explores the historical and likely future trajectory of investment treaties, including the sometimes politically controversial Investor-State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) procedure, especially in the rapidly growing and diverse Asia-Pacific region. The book focuses on the extent to which Asia-Pacific economies (individually and/or through sub-regional groupings like ASEAN, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations) have been or are more likely to become “rule makers” rather than “rule takers” in international investment law, and in what sense.
The following draft book proposal is based mainly on papers presented at conferences comparing contract- and treaty-based arbitration of investment disputes in ASEAN member states (held in Bangkok in July 2016) and across the wider Asian region (held at USydney in February 2017, supported by SCIL and with a summary by Ana Ubilava available via Kluwer Arbitration Blog) and reproduced (without hyperlinks) on this Blog.
Written by: Ana Ubilava (PhD in Law student, University of Sydney)
[This is a non-hyperlinked version of the posting at http://kluwerarbitrationblog.com/2017/03/01/international-investment-arbitration-across-asia-symposium/]
On 16 February 2017, the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law at the University of Sydney (CAPLUS) and the Sydney Centre for International Law (SCIL) co-hosted a symposium on the theme: “International Investment Arbitration Across Asia”. The symposium, sponsored also by the Sydney Southeast Asia Centre and Herbert Smith Freehills, brought together leading experts of international investment law from Southeast Asia, North Asia, India and Oceania. The symposium re-examined the historical development of international investment treaties in the Asian region, focusing on whether and how the countries may be shifting from rule takers to rule makers. A focus was on the ASEAN(+) treaties, including the (ASEAN+6) Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) at an advanced stage of negotiations, and the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Agreement, which was discussed more broadly as an urgent topic in the wake of the change of direction by the US under President Donald Trump’s administration. Participants at the symposium also elaborated on the experiences of Asian countries with ISDS mechanisms, and the attitude towards ISDS before and after first major investor-state arbitration (ISA) cases in the region. The many speakers and discussants for the event further explored possible future trajectories of international investment treaty policymaking of Asia-Pacific countries, especially China, Japan, Korea, India, Australia and New Zealand.
Congratulations to Stephen Ke (final-year Sydney Law School student, and former intern at the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law), Kieran Pender, Camilla Pondel and Dan Trevanion (ANU law students), who recently came out ahead of excellent teams from the National University of Singapore, followed by Osaka, Sophia, and Kyoto / Hitotsubashi universities. They had already competed very strongly in the INC moot as part of a larger Team Australia, including students competing also in the parallel Japanese-language division. Practice makes perfect! This year’s students won the Squire Patton Boggs Best English Negotiation Team award. Team Australia also was just short of the highest mark awarded in the English-language division for the Arbitration round, where students apply the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts.