Congratulations to Stephen Ke (final-year Sydney Law School student, and former intern at the Centre for Asian and Pacific Law), Kieran Pender, Camilla Pondel and Dan Trevanion (ANU law students), who recently came out ahead of excellent teams from the National University of Singapore, followed by Osaka, Sophia, and Kyoto / Hitotsubashi universities. They had already competed very strongly in the INC moot as part of a larger Team Australia, including students competing also in the parallel Japanese-language division. Practice makes perfect! This year’s students won the Squire Patton Boggs Best English Negotiation Team award. Team Australia also was just short of the highest mark awarded in the English-language division for the Arbitration round, where students apply the UNIDROIT Principles of International Commercial Contracts.
As part of our joint ARC-funded research project on investment treaty dispute resolution, also involving Shiro Armstrong (ANU) and Leon Trakman (UNSW), Jurgen Kurtz and I have completed a note on Australia’s recent policy and political debate over investor-state arbitration, which ultimately was not provided for in the Australia-Japan FTA signed last year (as explained here).
The complex and ongoing saga in Australia may also impact on pending negotiations for an expanded Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and (ASEAN+6) Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership FTA, each of which involves Japan as well as Australia.
Our paper will be published in early 2015 in the ICSID Review, with a longer version also at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2561147. Below is an outline.
This is an un-footnoted manuscript version of my review, forthcoming in the Journal of Contract Law (with the footnoted version available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2557209), of:
Long Term Contracts, Kanaga Dharamananda & Leon Firios (eds)
Federation Press, Sydney, 2013, ISBN 987 186287 915 7, xxxviiii + 419pp, A$225.
The volume, derived from a conference held in Perth in 2012 and edited by a senior counsel with a junior solicitor from Western Australia (WA), adds a useful combination of theoretical and practical papers to the growing literature on long-term contracts (LTCs), especially for Australian and other common law jurists. With a focus on resources and energy contracts, the book is a welcome in-depth addition to more commercially-orientated publications on the subject. It is particularly topical given attempts by buyers in countries such as Japan, which takes 75% of Australia’s exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG), to renegotiate its long-term supply contracts with Australian sellers.
The (federal government’s) Australian Research Council has provided $260,000 to support this project over 2014-6 (DP140102526), in collaboration with Prof Leon Trakman (lead-CI, former Dean of Law at UNSW), A/Prof Jurgen Kurtz (Melbourne Law School) and Dr Shiro Armstrong (ANU Crawford School of Public Policy, co-editor of the East Asia Forum blog). Below are parts of our original project application to the ARC; an updated and edited version is available at http://ssrn.com/abstract=2362122.
[Abstract] “This project will evaluate the economic and legal risks associated with the Australian Government’s current policy on investor-state dispute settlement through multidisciplinary research, namely econometric modeling, empirical research through stakeholder surveys and interviews, as well as critical analysis of case law, treaties and regulatory approaches. The aim of this project is to identify optimal methods of investor-state dispute prevention, avoidance and resolution that efficiently cater to inbound and outbound investors as well as Australia as a whole. The goal is to promote a positive climate for investment inflows and outflows, while maintaining Australia’s ability to take sovereign decisions on matters of public policy.”
[Aims] Foreign direct investment (FDI) has become essential to global economic development, with FDI flows exceeding US$1.5 trillion in 2012 (UNCTAD 2012). Australia’s treaty making practice, especially its current policy with respect to investor state dispute settlement (ISDS), may be sub-optimal, in that it is not entirely based on sound economic cost-benefit data and supporting econo-legal research. Australia can potentially increase its share of the global FDI pool by adopting a more efficient approach to formulating policy with respect to ISDS.
This project aims to develop a key policy framework and devise salient institutional structures and processes that take account of two competing pursuits: the cost-benefit advantages of promoting Australia as an FDI destination; and the need to ensure that these advantages are considered in light of competing policy objectives that are not explicated exclusively on economic grounds (as explained in the Background section). This project is valuable and innovative because it identifies significant gaps in the current Australian policy framework and uses interdisciplinary research to address them.
The overall purpose is to ensure that Australia attains its optimal share of the global FDI market in the context of competing policy objectives. As such, the project will evaluate the economic and legal risks associated with the Australian Government’s current policy on ISDS through multidisciplinary research, namely econometric modeling, empirical research through stakeholder surveys and interviews, as well as critical analysis of case law, treaties and regulatory approaches. The general aim is to identify optimal methods of investor-state dispute prevention, avoidance and resolution that efficiently cater to inbound and outbound investors as well as Australia as a whole. The specific purposes therefore are: (1) to investigate policies that underpin Australia’s approach to negotiating international investment treaties, with particular emphasis on its policies on avoiding, managing and resolving investment disputes; (2) to identify and analyse links between these policies and the investment practices of both inbound and outbound investors; and (3) to propose recommendations on alternative approaches to investment policy, so that, through a carefully framed cost-benefit analysis, Australia can retain appropriate sovereignty over public policy issues (such as health and the environment) while promoting a positive economic climate for investment inflows and outflows.
As well as semester-length exchange opportunities, such as those described by Ganesh Vaheisvaran (presently at Yonsei University in Korea), Sydney Law School has already started to meet the challenge of ‘Australia in the Asian Century‘ by developing short-term offshore courses in various Asian countries.
Jenny Han, a final-year LLB student with a BA (Hons) in Japanese Studies, first reports below on two experiences in Japan. The Kyoto/Tokyo Seminars in Japanese Law are offered for credit to LLB/JD and Masters students over 10 days every February, to Japanese, Australian and other international students. Participation in the INC negotiation and arbitration competition in Tokyo usually attracts course credit (within the ‘International Moot’ LLB/JD unit), although Sydney Law School is moving towards fielding a team every two years (recommencing in the December 2015 moot). We are very grateful for financial supporters of these opportunities for closer engagement with Japan, especially Mr Akira Kawamura (LLM 1979, former President of the International Bar Association) and Mitsui Matsushima Australia Pty Ltd.
Glenn Kembrey then adds some remarks on his student exchange at Kobe University. He enjoyed it so much that he extended his stay beyond one semester (needed to complete his USydney LLB degree), studying in Kobe for another semester to hone his skills in comparative law.
Guest blog by Paul Davis (Baker & McKenzie, Sydney/Tokyo) – “IMPORT OF US SHALE GAS INTO ASIA: THE EFFECT ON EXISTING LONG-TERM CONTRACTS FOR THE SALE OF LNG”
[A footnoted version of the following note is forthcoming on the Baker & McKenzie website. The firm supports ANJeL’s ‘Team Australia’ law students in the INC negotiation and arbitration moot competition in Tokyo (held over 1-2 December this year), and Mr Davis is a guest lecturer in Sydney Law School’s LLM courses in “Global Energy and Resources Law” and “Law and Investment in Asia”. The law and practice of long-term contracts is not only of immediate practical significance for bilateral and regional trade and investment (including Australia-Japan FTA negotiations), but also more broadly for contract law reform projects now underway in both Australia and Japan.]
Current Top Concern to Asia’s LNG Buyers and Sellers
The main issue exercising the minds of Asia’s LNG sellers and buyers is what will happen to their current LNG sale and purchase agreements (SPAs), which are priced based upon the Japan Crude Cocktail (JCC), as cheaper (Henry Hub linked) shale gas imports start to flow into the region from North America.
Buyers will be under pressure to “close the gap.” At the same time the sellers are concerned to maintain the prices based on which they made the decision to develop their LNG projects.
SPAs differ, depending upon the LNG SPA model preferred by the seller – in effect the operator of the project. However most SPAs contain two provisions of relevance to the current issue.
[A version of the second half of this Comment, on the potential impact of Australia’s new policy against treaty-based Investor-State Arbitration provisions on the pending FTA negotiations with Japan, appears also on the East Asia Forum – cited by Rowan Callick ‘Arbitration Hitch Holds Up FTAs’ The Australian (2 November 2012, p10).]
The remarkably well-attended and interactive 50th Anniversary Australia Japan Joint Business Conference took place in Sydney over 8-9 October. It was hosted by the Australian Committee, established in 1962 and comprising Australia-based firms involved with Japan. But the conference program was developed with its counterpart in Japan, which hosts there a Joint Conference in alternate years. This cooperative arrangement has become unusually close, and provides an inspiration for other bilateral business community centred relationships. (By contrast, for example, the Australia China Business Council hosts its own main events quite independently of those organised by its Chinese counterpart, comprising firms interested in doing business in Australia.) The Australia-Japan Committees’ arrangement is also very longstanding: the first joint conference took place in 1963 at the Tokyo Chamber of Commerce, with the second in 1964 at the Australian National University.
As ANU Emeritus Professor Peter Drysdale reminisced in his keynote address at this year’s conference in Sydney, this cooperative arrangement – and indeed the entire bilateral relationship between Australia and Japan – proved to be an unexpected success. After all, both countries were bitter foes during World War II. For several ensuing decades Australia maintained concerns about engaging with Asia, as well as trade liberalisation and inbound foreign investment more broadly, with Japan also habouring mercantilist tendencies.
Like so many in Australia and worldwide, we remember sadly today over 19,000 confirmed dead or still missing from Japan’s triple disasters a year ago. Our thoughts and prayers also go out to the many more who collectively have lost their lives from natural disasters in other parts of the Asia-Pacific – including the 2004 tsunami in Indonesia and other countries facing the Indian Ocean, the 2008 earthquake in Sichuan, the Christchurch earthquake and the Queensland floods – just over a year ago, too.
On behalf of the University of Sydney, please let me welcome you all to this international conference, on ‘Socio-legal norms in preventing and managing disasters in Japan: Asia-Pacific and interdisciplinary perspectives’, by acknowledging the many people and organizations that have made it possible. I thank especially our many speakers, session chairs and other participants here today – including Consul-General Kohara (who will soon add a few words to open the conference) and several others who will be joining us later (by Skype from Japan and the US, as well as the Federal Minister for Emergency Services and Adelaide University’s new Pro Vice-Chancellor (Int’l) Professor Kent Anderson, who will give closing speeches tomorrow).
I also gratefully acknowledge our main sponsor, the Japan Foundation Sydney, which last year requested applications for joint research events on this important topic; and the other participating institutions – the Law Faculty of Tohoku University (one of USydney’s longstanding partners in Japan) and various USydney-related organisations that have come together to provide matching funding: the Law School and its Centre for Asian and Pacific Law (CAPLUS), the Australian Network for Japanese Law (ANJeL, centred on the Law Schools at USydney, ANU and Bond University), the new China Studies Centre, the Department of Japanese Studies, and the Office of the Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Int’l).
May I also single out our fine administrative support staff: Dale Nouwens (Law School Events Coordinator) and Melanie Trezise (ANJeL Executive Coordinator). I truly appreciate their help, especially as I will need to step outside this conference occasionally over the next few days. As the relevant Associate Dean, I also need to keep an eye on the Orientation Program for new International Students in the Law School, which will be taking place in parallel in the lecture theatre across the corridor.
About the seminar:
This fourth ANJeL CLE Seminar in Tokyo, aimed especially at Australian practitioners in Japan, as well as Japanese practitioners interested in Australian law and the economy, introduces new Australian developments in labour law and consumer law, including dispute resolution aspects, comparing also some developments in Japanese law and practice. It will be followed by an informal networking opportunity.
To register and view the event flyer please click here.