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One step closer to national harmonisation

On 14 March 2013, the Commercial Arbitration Act 2013 (Act) was passed in Queensland. This Act brings Queensland into line with all States and Territories (except for the Australian Capital Territory) that have enacted the uniform legislation.

In 2009, in response to criticism that arbitration had become too litigious, the former Standing Committee of Attorneys-General (SCAG) agreed to draft new uniform commercial arbitration legislation based on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration.

In 2010, the SCAG agreed to implement a model Commercial Arbitration Bill 2010 to modernise and update the uniform Commercial Arbitration Acts in all States and Territories. New South Wales was first State to enact the updated Commercial Arbitration Act in 2010, with most other States and Territories following in 2011.

There was an attempt to introduce the bill in Queensland in 2011. However, the bill lapsed upon the dissolution of parliament for the general election in 2011. This Act now brings the harmonisation of national commercial arbitration laws one step closer to being complete.

The Act applies to domestic arbitration only. The Commonwealth International Arbitration Act 1974 governs international commercial arbitration.

The Act adopts international and national standards for arbitrating commercial disputes. This means that Queensland, along with other adopting States and Territories, can offer commercial arbitration services to businesses operating in Australia in an efficient and cost-effective manner in accordance with international best practice.

This legislation will be important to Queensland’s growth industries, including oil, gas, engineering, construction, shipping and finance as commercial arbitration is often used to resolve disputes in these areas.

This Act will come into force on a day yet to be fixed by proclamation.

By Mark Chapple, Jo Delaney, Erika Hansen, Leigh Duthie and Alex Wolff.

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Mark Chapple is a Partner of the Dispute Resolution and Insolvency practices at Baker & McKenzie Sydney. He is the former National Managing Partner of Baker & McKenzie's Australian offices. Until late 2005, Mark was head of Baker & McKenzie's Australian and Asia Pacific dispute resolution and insolvency practices. Mark remains one of Australia's leading insolvency and disputes lawyers and has represented many major Australian and international corporations in complex commercial litigation for the past 25 years (including AMP, Andersen, EDS and Zurich Insurance) and has also played a lead role in most of Australia's major insolvencies over the same period. Mark Chapple can be reached at and + 61 2 8922 5227.


Jo Delaney was a partner with the Dispute Resolution team at Baker McKenzie in Sydney.


Leigh Duthie is a partner in Baker & McKenzie’s Melbourne office, with extensive experience acting for major Australian and international corporations and government agencies in complex claims in the construction, infrastructure, resources and energy industries in international and domestic arbitration, expert determination and court proceedings in all major Australian courts.


Alex Wolff is Managing Partner of the Firm’s Melbourne office. Prior to that appointment, Alex served for a number of years as head of the Australian Dispute Resolution, Insolvency and Reconstruction and Employment Group. Alex has long been recognised as one of Australia's leading litigation lawyers in key national and regional industry surveys including Best Lawyers Australia and Chambers Asia Pacific.