Posts

Defending the Rule in Antony Gibbs

By Neerav Srivastava

 

The Rule in Antony Gibbs[1] (‘the Rule’) provides that if the proper law of a contract is Australian, then a discharge of the debt by a foreign jurisdiction will not be a discharge in Australia unless the creditor submitted to the foreign jurisdiction.[2] The Rule is much maligned, especially in insolvency circles, and has been described as “Victorian”.[3] In ‘Heritage and Vitality: Whether Antony Gibbs is a Presumption’[4] I seek to defend the Rule.

Presumption

The article begins by arguing that, in the modern context, that the Rule should be recognised as a Presumption as to party intentions.

Briefly, Gibbs was decided in the 1890s. At the time, the prevailing view was that the proper law of a contract was either the law of the place of the contract or its performance.[5] This approach was based on apportioning regulatory authority between sovereign States rather than party intentions. To apply a foreign proper law in a territory was regarded as contrary to territorial sovereignty. Freedom of contract and party intentions were becoming relevant to proper law but only to a limited extent.[6]

As for Gibbs, Lord Esher’s language is consistent with the ‘Regulatory Approach’:

Australian webinar on UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Signatures 2001

Electronic commerce: past, present and future

The UNCITRAL National Coordination Committee for Australia (UNCCA) invites you to attend its Seventh Annual May Seminar, to be held online as a webinar. This year we celebrate the 25th anniversary of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Commerce 1996, and the 20th Anniversary of the UNCITRAL Model Law on Electronic Signatures 2001.

Both of these Model Laws and the subsequent United Nations Convention on Electronic Communications in International Contracts 2005 have had a profound effect on the regulation of electronic commerce globally. In Australia, all of these developments have been incorporated in the Electronic Transactions Acts passed by the Commonwealth and all States and Territories. During 2020 the relevance of these enactments came to the fore as a result of the COVID pandemic.

Australia’s first contested ICSID enforcement

In February, the Federal Court of Australia delivered its judgment on the first contested enforcement of International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) awards in Australia. In Eiser Infrastructure Ltd v Kingdom of Spain [2020] FCA 157, the Court enforced two ICSID awards—award of 4 May 2017 in Case No. ARB/13/36, and award of 15 June 2018 as rectified by the award dated 29 January 2019 in Case No. ARB/13/31—against the Kingdom of Spain. The two cases were brought by different applicants but were heard and decided together.

The judgment concerns the interaction of two instruments at the intersection of public and private international law. Firstly, it concerns the Foreign States Immunities Act 1985 (Cth), which gives effect to a restrictive theory of state immunity. Secondly, the judgment concerns the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals of Other States, opened for signature 18 March 1965, 575 UNTS 159 (entered into force 14 October 1966) (Investment Convention), which is given the force of law in Australia by s 32 of the International Arbitration Act 1974 (Cth).