Arbitration Amendment Bill 2017 passes first reading

The Arbitration Amendment Bill 2017 (No 245-1) completed its first reading yesterday, and has been referred to the Justice and Electoral Committee. The bill is a private member’s bill (Paul Foster-Bell MP), selected from the ballot.  It’s first reading commenced on 12 April, but was not completed before the House rose.  Yesterday was the first scheduled day for the House to consider private members’ bills.

The bill covers a number of issues:

  • the arbitration of trust disputes
  • establishing a rebuttable presumption of confidentiality in any court action relating to arbitration (to bring the Act into line with Singapore and Hong Kong)
  • making a minor technical amendment to the grounds for staying enforcement to deal with the issues raised in the Carr v Gallaway Cook Allen case (to make the Act consistent with the UNCITRAL Model Law)
  • clarifying that any challenge to jurisdiction must be made during the course of the arbitration proceedings, rather than as ground for resisting enforcement (to deal with the much criticised Singapore Court of Appeal decision in Astro v Lippo)

During the first (incomplete) reading, the bill received almost universal cross-party support, which is encouraging.  The Justice and Electoral Committee will be calling for submissions on the bill shortly.