Changes to the Arbitration Act 1996

The Arbitration Amendment Act 2016 (Amendment Act) received the royal assent on 17 October 2016. It will bring discrete changes to the Arbitration Act 1996 (Act) that will come into effect on 1 March 2017.

The main change substitutes ‘the High Court’ with ‘the appointed body’ in Schedule 1, article 11 of the Act. Essentially, the amended parts of Schedule 1, article 11 provides the High Court as an avenue for remedy where there is a failure to appoint an arbitrator (where parties, or already appointed arbitrators, fail to agree within the time-limit on the appointment of an arbitrator). However, from 1 March 2017 a remedy will now be granted by an ‘appointed body’ instead of ‘the High Court’.

‘Appointed body’ is not defined by the Act nor is there a definition inserted by the Amendment Act—but, this may not be necessary given the new art 6A (to also come into effect 1 March 2017) which requires the Minister of Justice to appoint a suitably qualified body to carry out the functions described in Schedule 1, article 11. Obviously, AMINZ will likely be that appointed body.

The Amendment Act does not provide for regulations, or rules, as to how the appointed body will carry out its role. AMINZ also has not released any such guidelines or rules concerning this. It should be noted that there is no appeal allowed from a decision of the appointed body, but one presumes that any such decision will be judicially reviewable by the High Court.

 

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