On 31 March 2020, the Republic of Palau (Palau) became the 163rd country to accede to United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (the New York Convention).
The New York Convention is widely regarded as the cornerstone of modern international arbitration, and it is credited with making arbitration the most popular method of resolving international commercial disputes all over the world. It requires courts of contracting states to give effect to arbitration agreements and to recognize and enforce awards made in other states, subject to specific limited exceptions. The New York Convention has been ratified by all significant trading states, including all of Palau's key trading partners.
Our International Arbitration Group is delighted to have worked with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and the Palauan Government on Palau's accession to the New York Convention. Partner Gary Born, chair of the firm's International Arbitration Group, was engaged by the ADB together with Daniel Meltz, a barrister at 12 Wentworth Selborne Chambers, to advise on the accession and led the group's work along with Counsel Jonathan Lim.
Mr. Born and Mr. Lim will continue to assist the ADB with drafting international arbitration legislation for Palau in order to implement the New York Convention. Palau does not currently have an arbitration statute, although Palauan courts have applied US arbitration principles, as reflected in US case law, pursuant to Section 303 of the Palau National Code.
The International Arbitration Group's work in Palau is part of a broader technical assistance project promoting international arbitration reform in the South Pacific, overseen by the ADB's Office of the General Counsel's Law and Policy Reform Program and led by Christina Pak, principal counsel at the ADB. The project includes other countries in the South Pacific such as Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, Timor-Leste and Tonga.
The group provided assistance to the Government of Papua New Guinea with their accession to the New York Convention in 2019, along with related assistance with drafting implementing arbitration legislation, and to the Government of Fiji in the drafting of the Fiji International Arbitration Bill 2017. The group continues to support capacity-building initiatives for the private sector, government and judiciary in Fiji. Gary Born and Jonathan Lim took part in and helped to organize the inaugural ADB-UNCITRAL South Pacific International Arbitration Conference held in Denarau, Fiji, which took place on February 12-13, 2018. Mr. Born gave the conference's keynote address. On May 28 and 29, 2019, Jonathan Lim spoke at international arbitration training seminars on the new International Arbitration Act in Suva, Fiji, that were jointly organized by the Government of Fiji and the ADB for lawyers and non-lawyers in the private and public sectors.