4 February 2013

Queensland lawyers and businesses can learn about the implementation and benefits of the Commercial Arbitration Bill 2012 at a conference on tomorrow.

Co-hosted by The University of Queensland and the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific (UNCITRAL RCAP) the conference will explain how the new legislation is designed to support efficiency in the business sector as well as Australia’s adoption of the UN Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications.

Queensland Attorney General Jarrod Bleijie and Luca Castellani, Head of UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific, will be among the keynote speakers.

The conference will examine the implications of Australia’s planned accession to the 2005 UN Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications in International Contracts.

Australia is likely to be the first large trading nation to accede to the Convention, and in doing so, would provide the impetus for its Asia Pacific trading partners to follow suit, leading to the creation of a consistent and coherent electronic communications legal framework across the region.

Dr Alan Davidson of UQ’s TC Beirne School of Law says the event will enable academics, lawyers and businesses affected by the changes to learn more about the implementation and benefits of the new laws.

“We’re delighted UNCITRAL chose UQ to co-host the conference,” Dr Davidson said.

“It’s the only event of its kind planned in Australia so it provides a unique opportunity for businesses and law firms to discuss these important issues in Brisbane.

“The new legislation should enable organisations to conduct business faster and more efficiently reducing the need for lengthy paper documents.

“This will help achieve a paper-free office environment.”

Dr Davidson also said Australia’s adoption of the UN Convention on the Use of Electronic Communications will provide greater confidence to those involved in domestic and international trade by assuring contracts and other communications exchanged electronically are as valid and enforceable as their traditional paper-based equivalents.

“This would ensure the legal validity of all online contracts, including those used in property and land sale, which in many jurisdictions are still only accepted in paper form,” Dr Davidson said.

“The UN Convention also includes specific provisions to validate the use of automated message systems where there is little or no human intervention in the requisition process, such as those used by the large supermarket chains.

“This fills the gap in law where doubt existed over the status of such transactions.”

Adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration will provide a high level of consistency between commercial arbitration regimes across all Australian jurisdictions.

It will ensure that Queensland adheres to world standards in commercial dispute resolution by providing more accessible, cost-effective and timely processes for the resolution of commercial disputes through arbitration.

Australia's Commonwealth, State and Territory uniform Electronic Transactions Acts are based on the UN Commission on International Trade Law’s 1996 Model Law on Electronic Commerce.

An update of the law will help commercial traders and place Australia at the forefront of electronic regulation.

In 2009 Australia’s Standing Committee of Attorneys-General announced that once variations were made to the uniform Electronic Transaction Acts, Australia would accede to the Convention.

Only three countries - Singapore, the Dominican Republic and Honduras - have so far accepted or ratified the Convention; however this is enough for it to be entered into force on 1 March 2013.

Event details

Event: A modern legal framework to enable global trade: the new legislation on arbitration and on electronic transactions - conference Date: Tuesday 5 February 2013 Time: 9:00 am to 5:00 pm Venue: UQ Business School Downtown, MBA Theatre, Level 19, Central Plaza One, 345 Queen Street, Brisbane Contact: Beth Williams, ph: (+61) 07 334 69350, email: marketing@law.uq.edu.au

Media: Dr Alan Davidson, (+61) 7 336 52294, a.davidson@law.uq.edu.au
Julia Dean, National Information Officer, United Nations Information Centre (+61) 2 6270 9205
Melissa Reynolds, School of Law Marketing, (+61) 7 3365 2523, m.reynolds@law.uq.edu.au