50 years of UNCITRAL – and recollections from Bob Ellicott

At a lecture celebrating the 50th anniversary of UNCITRAL – the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law – a former Australian representative at UNCITRAL, Mr Bob Ellicott AC QC, made an honoured and surprise appearance. Mr Ellicott was Australia’s Solicitor-General and then Attorney-General, and Federal Court Judge, among many other distinguished roles.

The departing chair of the UNCITRAL National Coordination Committee for Australia (UNCCA), Tim Castle, spoke on the history of UNCITRAL during a period of a rapid increase in global trade and investment, providing model laws and guides in areas such as international arbitration, cross-border insolvency, sale of goods, electronic commerce and secured transactions. UNCITRAL has now taken on a major new mandate to consider the future of Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS), restrictions on tobacco advertising being one potential example.

Justice Steven Rares responded, referring in particular to his trial decision in Akers v Saad, relying upon the public interest exception to the cross-border insolvency model law, upheld on appeal.

Mr Ellicott also spoke about his experiences as an Australian delegate to UNCITRAL in New York in the 1970s.

The event was chaired by Chrissa Loukas SC.


The series of UN lectures was an initiative of UNCCA. Tim Castle has done an excellent job in establishing UNCCA over the last 4 years. The new chair of UNCCA is Justice Neil McKerracher.

Within UNCCA, I chair a number of senior lawyers and academics covering Working Group V – Insolvency which is meeting in Vienna from 18-22 December 2017, dealing with corporate group insolvency, directors’ duties in the lead up to insolvency, and recognition of foreign insolvency judgments.

Michael Murray

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