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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).