As the fastest growing region in Australia, the development of Western Sydney has been a national focus. Publicly, the Australian Government has committed up to AUD5.3 billion in public equity funding towards the construction of Sydney’s second international airport, the Western Sydney Airport. Touted as the Western Sydney Aerotropolis, the surrounding region of Western Sydney Airport will need significant private investment of at least AUD20 billion to develop an integrated transport, logistics, defence, advanced health, food agtech and education precinct surrounding the runway and terminal facilities.
On 14 June 2017, the Legislative Council of Hong Kong passed the Arbitration and Mediation Legislation (Third Party Funding) (Amendment) Bill 2016.
The Bill comes on the heels of the consultation paper issued in October 2015 by the Law Reform Commission’s Third Party Funding for Arbitration Sub-committee and closely follows the recommendations made by the Law Reform Commission in its Report dated 12 October 2016 to clarify the law concerning third party funding of arbitration and associated proceedings under the Arbitration Ordinance. (For more information about the report and the LRC’s recommendations, see our article in the May 2017 issue of Arbitration World.
The Supreme Court is often called upon by an aggrieved party to restrain enforcement of an adjudicator’s determination whilst that party seeks to have the determination set aside.
In an ex tempore decision in Atlas Construction Group Pty Limited v Fitz Jersey Pty Limited  NSWSC 72, his Honour Justice McDougall held that Fitz Jersey Pty Limited was not entitled to an interim injunction requiring AUD11 million received by Atlas Construction Group Pty Ltd pursuant to a garnishee order to be paid into court whilst Fitz Jersey pursued its application to set aside an adjudicator’s determination.
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Given the highly technical and complex nature of the activities in the construction industry, to provide familiarity and certainty, and to save time and (legal and administrative) costs, standard form contracts are widely in use. Arbitration agreements are contained in most standard form contracts for similar reasons.
Traditionally, parties to construction disputes rely on their own financial resources to pay for legal representation in arbitration. This may soon undergo substantial changes as third party funders become much more active in this area.
Many jurisdictions such as the United Kingdom, and more recently Singapore, already permit third party funding for arbitration.
The Hong Kong Government is in the process of introducing similar legislation in Hong Kong, along with various safeguards to ensure ethical standards are maintained and to prevent abuse. The law relating to maintenance and champerty, which is still punishable as a criminal offence, will no longer be applicable to Hong Kong arbitration.
The unfair contract term prohibitions in the Competition and Consumer Act 2010 (Cth) were recently extended to cover standard form contracts with small businesses.
The new law provides for unfair contract terms to be declared void and unenforceable. The relevant contract will then only continue to bind the parties insofar as it can operate without the unfair terms.
These changes may have significant impacts on the building and construction industry as terms typically found in construction contracts are likely to be subject to the prohibitions. We recommend that principals and contractors identify and review any standard form contracts they may have with small business counterparties that may be impacted by this new regime.
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A prominent feature of the construction industry is its pyramid structure with long chains of contracts and sub-contracts from developers down to small sub-contractors and suppliers.
The inclusion of conditional payment terms (favorable to the paying party), frequent disputes at all stages of the projects, and cumbersome dispute resolution processes can often result in substantial delay in payments to the smaller sub-contractors and suppliers. On the one hand, these sub-contractors and suppliers are usually dependent on the parties higher up in the contracting hierarchy for new work, and they often lack the financial means and resources to engage in protracted disputes. On the other hand, delayed or nonpayment could adversely affect their cash flow, resulting in difficulties in ordering and securing goods and services, paying employee wages, and sometimes even the suspension of work.
To address these problems, the United Kingdom pioneered the statutory adjudication scheme for security of payment in 1996, which has since been followed (with slight variations) by several other countries, including Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Malaysia.
Welcome to this 32nd edition of Arbitration World.
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We are very pleased to include in this edition, as part of our series of guest contributions from expert witnesses, an article by Howard Rosen and Noel Matthews of FTI Consulting, regarding how “country risk” can affect the value of investments and the approach towards this issue in damages calculations in international arbitration.
We review recent developments in arbitration in Qatar, including court decisions regarding the validity of arbitration agreements and the enforcement of arbitration awards. As part of a series of articles related to so-called “Bermuda Form” liability insurance policies, we look at the process of formation of the arbitral tribunal in Bermuda Form policies and whether such insurance policies may conflict with certain U.S. state laws regulating insurance.
We report on a recent decision of the English Commercial Court regarding enforcement of a tribunal’s order for a provisional payment, as well as a recent UK Privy Council decision on the meaning and effect of permissive arbitration clauses. We review the new mediation rules of the Vienna International Arbitration Centre (VIAC) and report on the work of an International Bar Association (IBA) Subcommittee in assessing how states have defined the public policy exception under the New York Convention.
We review some recent decisions of the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland on arbitration award set-aside applications in the past year. We are also very pleased to include a guest contribution from Ben Beaumont, a barrister from Thomas More Chambers and Chairman of the Arbitration Club, regarding a recent decision of the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland on the role of a Dispute Adjudication Board (DAB) under the FIDIC Red Book regime.
We also provide our usual update on developments from around the globe in international arbitration and investment treaty arbitration.
We hope you find this edition of Arbitration World of interest, and we welcome any feedback (email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org).
Although Australian construction contracts quite commonly provide for design life warranties in respect of plant, equipment, building or structures, the concept of a ‘design life warranty’ has not been the subject of extensive commentary by the Australian legal profession or interpretation by the courts in Australia.