Australia is rapidly gaining ground as an attractive seat for international arbitration, particularly within the Asia-Pacific region. The last financial year saw Australia’s Courts taking steps towards further supporting the use of arbitration within Australia’s wider legal framework for dispute resolution. This article considers some of the highlights from the 2018 to 2019 financial year case law involving arbitration.
From a review of the diverse range of decisions handed down in the 2018–2019 year, we have identified the key points in relation to arbitration agreements on the one hand and arbitral awards on the other, which we consider in detail in this article. In relation to arbitration agreements, we note that the High Court has adopted an orthodox approach to contractual interpretation by stating that arbitral agreements should be construed ‘by reference to the language used by the parties, the surrounding circumstances, and the purposes and objects to be secured by the contract’. Further judgments make it clear that, in interpreting arbitration clauses, Courts are hesitant to refer disputes to arbitration where the dispute is not within the scope of the arbitration agreement. In relation to arbitral awards, we consider a number of decisions which highlight that there is a high threshold for parties seeking to set aside an arbitral award by virtue of alleged misconduct on the part of the arbitrator and that Courts may not enforce an arbitral award if an application to set aside that same award has been filed in the jurisdiction in which the award was made.Asian International Arbitration Journal