TCL Air Conditioner (Zhongshan) Co Ltd v The Judges of the Federal Court of Australia  HCA 5 (13 March 2013)
41 HAYNE, CRENNAN, KIEFEL AND BELL JJ. The International Arbitration Act 1974 (Cth) ("the IA Act"), and the international conventions and law to which it gives effect, facilitate the use of arbitration agreements and the curial recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards made in relation to international trade and commerce.
42 The plaintiff ("TCL"), a company registered, and having its principal place of business, in the People's Republic of China, entered into a written distribution agreement with the second defendant ("Castel"), a company registered, and having its principal place of business, in Australia ("the agreement"). The agreement provided for the submission of disputes to arbitration in Australia.
43 Following a commercial arbitration two awards were made requiring TCL to pay to Castel $3,369,351 and costs of $732,500. In default of payment, Castel applied under the IA Act to the Federal Court of Australia to enforce the awards. In separate proceedings, TCL applied to set aside those awards.
44 Of particular relevance is Pt III (ss 15-30A) of the IA Act. Headed "International Commercial Arbitration", it concerns arbitration agreements and the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards governed by the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration ("the Model Law"). Section 16(1) of the IA Act gives "the force of law in Australia" to the Model Law, the English text of which is contained in Sched 2 to the IA Act.
45 In the proceedings in this Court's original jurisdiction, TCL submitted that s 16(1) of the IA Act is beyond power because it infringes Ch III of the Constitution. What follow are our reasons for rejecting TCL's submissions and refusing to grant the relief sought by TCL.