I am a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Business Law and Taxation at the Monash Business School, and completed my PhD at the Monash Law Faculty in 2015. I’ve previously worked at the Deakin Law School, and in private practice at Arnold Bloch Leibler Lawyers & Advisers.
I’ve been working in academia for over 10 years now, and (alternative) dispute resolution has been a constant theme running through my teaching and research duties. I’m a member of the Australian Dispute Resolution Research Network, ACICA 45, the Asia-Pacific Forum for International Arbitration, the ICC Young Arbitrators Forum, ICDR Young & International, the Moot Alumni Association, Young ICCA, and the Young International Arbitration Group. Within my Department, I co-direct our International Trade and International Commercial Law research group alongside my colleague Dr Nicola Charwat: we look after the private and public international law sides of the group’s profile, respectively. I’m also known to be a card-carrying AGLC-pedant, and like to bring my keen attention to detail to my academic work in general.
Outside of university life, I live with my wife and daughter in Kensington: a warm and community-focused suburb apparently hiding fairly well within the otherwise-bustling inner city of Melbourne. When I’m in that grey zone in-between work and home, you’ll find me with headphones on listening to some great dispute resolution podcasts including The Arbitration Station and its spiritual predecessor, International Dispute Negotiation.
Ben’s Dispute Resolution Interests
My interest in dispute resolution was ignited by my participation, as an undergraduate law student, in the Willem C Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot: a fantastic annual event held in Hong Kong and Vienna, where teams of law students from around the world argue an international sale of goods dispute within an international commercial arbitration setting. Having no prior exposure to arbitration, I was immediately fascinated by the fact that it is an alternative to State court litigation, yet is still anchored in the law: arbitrators aren’t judges and their decisions can’t be reviewed on the merits, but they still determine the facts and apply the law when resolving commercial disputes. After joining the Deakin Law School, I was fortunate enough to coach its Vis Moot teams for nine years, and really enjoyed the opportunity to introduce tomorrow’s lawyers to the world of arbitration as well.
International commercial arbitration also fascinates me because of its intersections with international sales law and private international law: much of my academic research has explored the overlap between these three areas of law.
My PhD is a good example of this: it addressed how arbitrators identify the law that they will apply, in an international commercial arbitration, where the parties have not included a choice of law clause in their contract. Undertaking my PhD research, and then its revision ahead of its publication as a book, was an interesting exercise in balancing some very different perspectives: on the one hand, that arbitrations are usually resolved on the facts, and on the other, that the applicable law can drastically affect the outcomes of cases. Since arbitrations are usually private/confidential, secondary sources made an important contribution to this work, though I also enjoyed the opportunity to delve into the world of published arbitral awards wherever I could, including extracts from International Chamber of Commerce cases.
In the dispute resolution space, I’ve published papers addressing Australia’s arbitration laws, as well as international commercial arbitration more generally. I’ve also got a keen interest in the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods, including its Australian implementation, and have several papers addressing these topics too. You’ll find many of my papers available on SSRN here, and I tweet about my research at @LawGuyPI here. I enjoyed the opportunity to present a work-in-progress paper at the ADRRN Roundtable held at La Trobe Law School in December 2019, and this project is still ongoing: I’m trying to reconceptualise the criteria we use to evaluate developments in Australia’s arbitration laws, with a view to informing future law reform initiatives. Thanks to all who attended my session for their very valuable feedback: I have lots of helpful suggestions to work on from here!
Engagement and Impact in Dispute Resolution Research
One of the things I find really great about arbitration law research is the opportunities I have to engage with private practice, and my work’s potential for professional impact. I’ve enjoyed several opportunities to contribute submissions to consultations on arbitration rules reforms, like this one here. I’m also aware that my publications have been used on several occasions to inform legal advice, and the conduct of cases. It’s a bit of a cliché to say that law journal articles are written just to be published, and not actually read: not true in the ADR field!
In addition to progressing the arbitration law project I presented at ADRRN 2019, I have a few other projects spanning arbitration law, sales law, and private international law in my research pipeline. I’m looking forward to staying connected with the ADRRN community and sharing the results of this work as it unfolds! If you have an interest in these areas yourself, you’re very welcome to get in touch: you can contact me at email@example.com.