On 17 January 2023, the Democratic Republic of Timor-Leste (Timor-Leste) became the 172nd country to accede to United Nations Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards 1958 (the New York Convention).
The New York Convention is widely regarded as the cornerstone of modern international arbitration, and it is credited with making arbitration the most popular method of resolving international commercial disputes all over the world. It requires courts of contracting states to give effect to arbitration agreements and to recognize and enforce awards made in other states, subject to specific limited exceptions. The New York Convention has been ratified by all significant trading states, including all of Timor-Leste’s key trading partners.
Our International Arbitration Group is delighted to have worked with the Asian Development Bank (ADB), the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) and the Timor-Leste Government on its accession to the New York Convention. Partner Gary Born, chair of the firm’s International Arbitration Group, was engaged by the ADB together with Daniel Meltz, a barrister at 12 Wentworth Selborne Chambers, to advise on the accession and led the Group’s work along with Partner Jonathan Lim.
Gary Born and Jonathan Lim also previously provided assistance to the the ADB and the Timor-Leste Government with the drafting of the Timor-Leste Voluntary Arbitration Law, which was enacted on 31 March 2021. The Voluntary Arbitration Law implements the New York Convention in Timor-Leste and regulates the enforcement of international arbitration agreements and foreign arbitral awards, among other things, in Timor-Leste.
The International Arbitration Group’s work in Timor-Leste is part of a broader technical assistance project promoting international arbitration reform in the South Pacific and beyond that was initiated and overseen by the ADB’s Office of the General Counsel’s Law and Policy Reform Program and led by Christina Pak, Principal Counsel at the ADB. The project includes other countries in the Pacific such as Fiji, Palau, Papua New Guinea, Samoa, and Tonga.
Gary Born and Jonathan Lim previously provided assistance to the Governments of Palau, Papua New Guinea, and Tonga with their accessions to the New York Convention, along with related assistance with drafting implementing arbitration legislation. Mr. Born and Mr. Lim also assisted the Government of Fiji in the drafting of the Fiji International Arbitration Act 2017 and related subsidiary legislation. The Group continues to support capacity-building initiatives for the private sector, lawyers and judiciary in Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Palau, and other Pacific countries.
Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP offers one of the world’s premier international arbitration and dispute resolution practices. Our International Arbitration Practice Group has been involved in more than 650 proceedings in recent years. We have successfully represented clients in four of the largest institutional arbitrations and several of the most significant ad hoc arbitrations to arise in the past decade.