On 3 August 2010 the Australian International Disputes Centre
(AIDC) was formally opened by the Commonwealth
Attorney-General Robert McClelland and NSW Attorney-General John
What is the AIDC?
The AIDC is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth and NSW
governments, the Australian Commercial Disputes Centre and the
Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration.
The establishment of the AIDC is part of a package of
legislative measures that the Federal Government has undertaken to
improve arbitration facilities in Australia, including a number of
reforms to the International Arbitration Act. Mr
McClelland explained that "these changes mean that Australia,
for the first time, will now have a harmonised system for both
domestic and international arbitration." Mr McClelland also
announced that the Federal Government has commenced negotiations
with the Permanent Court of Arbitration, which is based in The
Hague, to enable the Court to conduct matters in Australia.
It is intended that the AIDC will become the Australian hub of
dispute resolution, offering services for both domestic and
international matters, with a particular focus on attracting
corporations operating in the Asia-Pacific region. Located on
Castlereagh Street, Sydney, the AIDC is purpose-built to host
dispute resolution processes, with a number of mediation and
break-out rooms available for hire. Panels of accredited dispute
resolvers and support staff are available to assist those making
use of the facilities.
The AIDC also offers mediation skills workshops and advanced
training in arbitration, mediation, adjudication and expert
Further information about the facilities and education courses
offered by the AIDC is available here.
The growing importance of alternative dispute resolution
Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) processes are becoming
increasingly important as a means of resolving disputes. Speaking
at the launch of the AIDC, Mrs Heather Ridout, CEO of the
Australian Industry Group commented: "Commercial disputes are
a reality of doing business; minimising them and resolving them
well is the key."
ADR can be an attractive alternative to litigation given the
time and costs which can be spared in avoiding litigation.
Additionally, the resolution of a dispute through ADR offers
parties the opportunity to resolve their issues by consensus and to
reach a commercially sensible settlement.
Alternatives to litigation are best considered before any
dispute has arisen, and commercial agreements now frequently
include compulsory dispute resolution clauses which require parties
to partake in a formal dispute resolution process prior to
Even after commencing proceedings, courts may encourage parties
and their lawyers to adopt ADR processes in the early stages of the
matter, reflecting the general shift towards case management
procedures to increase the efficiency of the court system. Under s
26 of the Civil Procedure Act judges retain the power to
refer the parties to mediation at any time, with or without their
Making the most of ADR
The Government's sponsorship of the AIDC highlights the
significance of ADR processes in the Australian legal system. It is
essential that parties considering entering into a commercial
agreement are well informed of available ADR processes. The
inclusion of a dispute resolution clause in any agreement must be
carefully drafted to ensure its enforceability.
In circumstances where court proceedings are already underway,
mediation can still offer parties a way of reducing further
The opening of the all purpose AIDC is an important and welcome
addition to ADR in Australia.
Peter Sise explores how your contractual clause for recovery of legal costs might not do what you think it does.
Some comments from our readers… “The articles are extremely timely and highly applicable” “I often find critical information not available elsewhere” “As in-house counsel, Mondaq’s service is of great value”
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).