Canberra Calling

Australia has often been described as the “lucky country”. Blessed with spectacular coastlines and landscapes as well as bountiful natural resources, Australia’s international prominence has grown throughout the past century as her products and people have become increasingly mobile.

During this period, the development of private international law rules has been left, principally, to the Courts and to the legislatures of the States and Territories that make up the Commonwealth of Australia and the focus, until very recently, has been on the regulation of internal situations involving two or more States/Territories. As a result, private international law in Australia is an interesting, but erratic, patchwork of common law rules (e.g. law applicable to contract and tort), local legislation (e.g. jurisdiction over non-local defendants) and unified Commonwealth-level regimes (e.g. enforcement of some foreign judgments).

In 2011, the Standing Committee of Law and Justice (comprising the Attorneys-General of the Commonwealth Government and of each of the States and Territories, as well as the Minister of Justice of New Zealand) recognised the need to assess the suitability of Australia’s private international law rules in modern conditions. In April 2012, the SCLJ agreed to the establishment of a working group to commence consultations with key stakeholders to determine whether further reform in this area would deliver worthwhile micro-economic benefits for the community.

Having established its working group, the Commonwealth Attorney-General has now launched a public consultation on its newly created Private International Law website, and in parallel on Twitter (@agd_pil), Linked In (AGD – Private International Law) and on Facebook (Private International Law). Online discussions have been launched on jurisdiction, applicable law and other private international law issues and all contributions are welcomed. In particular, and without wishing to exclude the contributions of experts in the field, the organisers of the consultation would like to solicit the views of businesses and individuals with practical experience of the operation of the Australian rules which currently apply to cross-border transactions and events.

There is no need to hop on a plane – follow the link now.