BHP supports new cross border arbitration rules

BHP Billiton is supporting the introduction of new arbitration rules for cross border and international commercial disputes.

The initiative by the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA) will allow companies to obtain easier resolutions during international commercial disputes.

BHP vice president of litigation, Damian Lovell, explained that it is standard practice to draw up arbitration clauses for cross border contracts.

“We see international arbitration as an integral part of our global dispute resolution strategy," Lovell stated.

Following the Australian Government’s decision to appoint ACICA as the single appointing authority under the amended International Arbitration Act, the ACICA arbitration rules have been updated after consultation.

The rules also now include emergency arbitrator provisions, which is a first for an Australian arbitratal body.

Head of the ACICA Rules Committee, Malcolm Holmes, said these new provisions will provide greater flexibility as well as options for companies to seek emergency interim measures of protection from an emergency arbitrator before arbitratal tribunals are constituted.

"One of the concerns expressed by the international business community is that arbitration needs to provide means of granting protective measures. A party may need to ensure that the other party refrains from taking certain actions before the dispute has been heard," Holmes explained.

"For instance, one party may wish to prevent the other from destroygin evidence, or it may seek to ensure that the other party continues to perform its obligations under an ongong contract."

With mining companies often operating in countries with less reputable governments and legal infrastructure, the new laws will make it easier to operate overseas.

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