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Lisa Dudzik: Going to Court While Going Through Arbitration (Part I)

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Lisa Dudzik is a contracts and claims manager based in Qatar. Today, she writes about letting the arbitration process run its due course.

In Australia, the courts discourage getting them involved in arbitration processes. This was learned the hard way by Sino Dragon Trading Ltd, a company based in Hong Kong.

While working together on a project, Noble Resources International Pte Ltd (a subsidiary of the Noble Group) served an arbitration notice on Sino Dragon, claiming a breach or variance of contract, proposing that the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA) be the appointing authority and appointing M as an arbitrator. Sino Dragon neither responded nor appointed an arbitrator. After two months, Noble Resources wrote the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague, requesting that that Court’s secretary-general designate ACICA as the appointing authority.

Despite notifying Sino Dragon about the request made by Noble Resources, the Permanent Court of Arbitration did not receive any responses from the former, and thus appointed W as the appointing authority. Another arbitrator, B, was appointed by W as the second arbitrator when Sino Dragon still did not respond. Finally, both M and B appointed a third and presiding arbitrator, H.

Noble Resources advised W that B’s firm was acting for another subsidiary of the Noble Group in separate proceedings in China, which might involve proceedings in Hong Kong, and that B was not directly involved. B added that that B’s firm had a Chinese division which was financially separate from the Australian division which was acting in behalf of Noble Resources.

Sensing a potential conflict of interest, Sino Dragon submitted to the Tribunal several challenges to the appointment of the arbitrators. Before the final challenge was determined, however, it filed an application with the Federal Court of Australia challenging the appointments.

Stay tuned to this blog to read more from Lisa Dudzik.

Lisa Dudzik On The Latest In Australian Economy and Environment

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Lisa Dudzik's Connection to Australia
Economic and Environmental Conditions of Australia

Lisa Dudzik talks about the latest and most important headlines to come out of Australia. Today’s blog entry will touch on the Australian economy and plans for the environment.

Economy

Earlier this month, the Reserve Bank of Australia had cut interest rates to a record low of 1.5%, cutting off 25 basis points from its benchmark. The move is projected to weaken the Australian dollar, in part to help the economy complete its transition from a commodity exporting economy to one driven by domestic factors such as the services and real estate industry.

One reason why the Australian dollar has remained strong despite the slow economic growth is because investors have continued to seek yield from Australian bonds. Compared elsewhere, in other developed countries such as Japan, investors continue to face negative yields. Instead of allowing their money to grow, or keeping it intact at the very least, such bonds only cost investors for no reason other than the negative return.

With so few viable options left for investors, Australia is considered as one of the last havens with positive returns. The Reserve Bank of Australia, however, noted that the interest rate might have to be cut even further, down to 1% in order to sustain the country’s slowing economic growth. Analysts looked at inflation rates, the consumer price index and exports data to support their case for a slowing economy.

The news may not entirely be welcomed by citizens, but the growing pains brought about by the shift in the economy still hold tremendous potential in the long run. Right now, Australia stands to benefit more from veering away from commodities, which are at record low prices. This is because moving away is still relatively better than waiting and guessing where prices will hit bottom.

In the meantime, this gives the economy the license it needs to seek alternatives and new ways to prop up the economy. Fortunately, compared to other developed countries like Japan and those in Europe, Australia has the advantage of learning from these countries’ costly stimulus experiments.

Environment

On the environmental front, Australia is about to get its first large-scale hybrid wind-solar farm near Canberra. The Australian Renewable Energy Agency awarded last month a $9.9 million grant to Goldwind, the Chinese company that will build a 10MW solar photovoltaic plant in the Gullen Range wind farm.

Once built, the solar farm is projected to generate 22,000 MWh of power within its first year, which is estimated to be capable of supporting around 3,000 homes. The reasons for co-location or why the solar farm will be built on the existing wind farm is to save as much as 20% on costs, and to tap the two energy’s complementary nature. Both energy sources have different times for peak output, which can result in continuous energy generation.

The project is a landmark energy project, paving the way for more companies to follow the novel approach of co-location. Apart from the lower costs, it also amounts to more efficient power generation.

For more updates by Lisa Dudzik about Australia, please stay tuned to this page.

 

Lisa Dudzik On Canada’s Economy Woes

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Lisa dudzik on Canada
Current status of Canada’s Economy

It seems Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government is off to a shaky start. Analysts have said that Canada’s economic numbers look anemic at best. Does this mean it’s going to get worse before it gets better? Lisa Dudzik takes a view on the matter for today’s blog entry.

This month, the Toronto Stock Exchange index continued to climb, reaching its highest point over the year. The move is seen to have been fueled by the sudden bullish trend in the gold sector which started at the beginning of the year. Since about 14% of the TSX is comprised of gold mining companies, this can help explain why money is flowing into the stock market despite the gloomy economic data.

The apparent disconnect between the TSX and the economy doesn’t completely make sense at first. On the one hand, the economy has clearly taken a beating based on various metrics—decreases in employment, stagnant hourly wages, a record high trade deficit, low oil prices, and other dismal figures such as those from the manufacturing sector. Yet on the other, investor sentiment remains relatively positive in the market, so which picture is telling the truth?

The truth is, as many analysts might point out, money continues to be sucked in the market because there is nowhere else for it to go. An investor looking for yield may choose to invest in real gold or gold mining companies. This is because alternatives to equities such as bonds and bank savings offer little to no yield at all—one reason why investors have become a little restless, taking on the bet for gold and other commodities.

One caveat to investors, though: the Federal Reserve’s Janet Yellen continues to be hawkish, expressing intentions for the Fed to push through with its planned rate hike. Any move that can strengthen the US dollar will definitely kill the rosy sentiment over gold.

In short, while the TSX has a lot to gain from gold, Canada’s economy also has a lot to gain from a stronger US dollar, since its economy is heavily tied to the US. This is what being stuck in between a rock and a hard place looks like, and for Canada, there seems to be little that can be done, especially during a time when the global economy is in a general slump.

For the construction industry in Canada, the slowing economy will definitely have unpleasant effects. Businesses will control spending and cut costs wherever and whenever it can. On the whole, what Canada needs to do to save the economy is the very thing it is scared to do the most—spend money to get the economic ball rolling again. Businesses are never the first to do such, which is why all eyes are on Canadian PM Justin Trudeau and his government’s bold promises to create jobs and grow the economy.

In the end, how well the Trudeau government weathers this economic storm remains to be seen. To be safe, investors will not be faulted to expect things to get worse before they get better.

For more blog updates by Lisa Dudzik, please stay tuned to this page.

 

Perth Tourism

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This page will contain information about Perth’s tourism and attractions. If you’re planning a family vacation, or looking for adventure on your next solo trip, consider a stopover at Perth to see what this up-and-coming global city has to offer.

As an expat, I’ve had the opportunity to travel all over the world and experience different cultures. I’ve been to the Middle East, Asia, and Europe, but one of my favorite places is still Perth. This lovely city in Western Australia offers just about everything for all kinds of travelers! From sunbathing on sandy beaches and exploring lush wineries, to hiking under the stars and taking selfies with wildlife, there are plenty of things to do and places to visit here, so come on over and see the Land Down Under!

If you’ve never been to Perth, or have no idea at all of what to do here, I often recommend the following tourist spots as I believe these are unique to the city and region:

Lisa Perth Australia
Beach to visit beach

Lake Hillier and Pink Lake

Have you heard about the world famous pink lake? I mean this literally! Lake Hillier of Middle Island is a cheerful, bubblegum pink-colored lake that has captured the social media spotlight dozens of times now. Scientists aren’t really sure why Lake Hillier is pink, but they suspect it has to do with bacteria. Nevertheless, I think Lake Hillier exudes exceptional beauty and charm, which perfectly complements the laidback atmosphere of Australia.

Unfortunately, the only means possible to see Lake Hillier is by air. If a visit to Lake Hillier is a must for you, then make your way to Middle Island, the largest island in the Recherche Archipelago, off the Esperance coast. There you can explore the islands and wildlife on a cruise while also enjoying spectacular views of the pink lake.

Another pink-colored lake worth visiting is Pink Lake in the Goldfields-Esperance region. Unlike Lake Hillier, however, Pink Lake isn’t always that distinctive pink color, as it sometimes appears red. What makes Pink Lake important to Western Australian tourism is that it has been identified as an Important Bird Area or IBA by BirdLife International. This status underlines the lake’s importance for supporting many native and migratory birds.

Cottesloe Beach

A favorite hangout place of many, including couples and families, Cottesloe Beach is a short drive away from the city that offers outdoor water sports like swimming, snorkeling, and surfing. For those looking to enjoy the sand and sun without getting in the water, you can enjoy a quiet picnic on Cottesloe Esplanade.

Aside from these, there are also music concerts and sporting events held in the area from time to time. As the most popular city beach, pockets of commercial establishments like restaurants, bars, and cafés are to be expected.

Overall, Cottesloe Beach is as warm and inviting as the rest of Western Australia. When you need to take a walk to recharge, or let your mind wander and people watch, I strongly suggest the sights and sounds of Cottesloe.

For more about Perth’s tourism, please visit this page again soon.

 

Lisa Dudzik On The Integrity of International Arbitration Proceedings

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Last year, the Federal Court of Australia dismissed requests of Hong Kong company Sino Dragon to remove two members of an arbitral tribunal in a case against Singapore company Noble Resources. The Australian court’s decision bolstered the integrity of the arbitration process. Contracts and claims manager Lisa Dudzik shares her thoughts on the case.

The dispute between Sino Dragon Trading Ltd and Noble Resources International Pte Ltd should serve as a strong reminder to companies that international arbitration proceedings are not to be messed with. In this case, seeking court intervention to derail the process, even when the court has no clear mandate over the proceedings, will not only be met unfavorably, but will also be looked down on as it can significantly undermine Australia’s status as a pro-arbitration seat.

Background

Last year, a contractual dispute arose between Hong Kong company Sino Dragon and Singapore Company Noble Resources over the sale and purchase of iron ore to China. Contained in the contract was an arbitration clause which required disputes to be resolved by Australian arbitration following UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, as the iron ore in question is under the jurisdiction of Western Australia.

Noble Resources alleged that Sino Dragon breached the contract when the latter failed to open a letter of credit as the purchaser of the iron ore and failed to perform the contract in general. Noble Resources served Sino Dragon a notice of arbitration worth AUS$1.9 million. Now the dispute revolves around whether or not Noble Resources had suffered damages from Sino Dragon’s breach of contract to purchase the iron ore. Noble Resources had sold the iron ore to a third party.

Arbitration

When Noble Resources served the notice for arbitration, Sino Dragon did not respond within the 30-day period. This could be seen as not only an act of negligence but also a deliberately uncooperative stance by the Hong Kong party, as they failed to respond within the prescribed period on various points of the proceedings—failing to respond when the notice of arbitration was served, failing to appoint an arbitrator, failing to challenge an appointed arbitrator by the other party, and failing to pursue its challenge.

Sino Dragon eventually requested to be pulled out of the Tribunal. They claimed that the appointed authority raised doubts with respect to their impartiality and independence over the case. As a result of this view, they filed their challenge over the appointments in Australian court, which were eventually dismissed.

Lessons, Insights

Judging by this case, it is clear that Australia is committed to remaining a viable seat for arbitration proceedings. The Australian court’s refusal to intervene demonstrates its understanding of its scope and power, as it acknowledges that any intervention made can derail the arbitration process. As the contract between the two companies had an arbitration agreement—with no clause authorizing court intervention—there seems to be little to nothing that Sino Dragon can do to overturn the appointments in its favor.

For updates on this case or for more news about international commercial arbitration brought to you by Lisa Dudzik, please stay tuned to this page.