The UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration was prepared by UNCITRAL, and adopted by the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law on 21 June 1985. In 2006 the model law was amended, it now includes more detailed provisions on interim measures.
The model law is not binding, but individual states may adopt the model law by incorporating it into their domestic law (as, for example, Australia did, in the International Arbitration Act 1974, as amended).
Note that there is a difference between the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration (1985) and the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. On its website, UNCITRAL explains the difference as follows: “The UNCITRAL Model Law provides a pattern that law-makers in national governments can adopt as part of their domestic legislation on arbitration. The UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, on the other hand, are selected by parties either as part of their contract, or after a dispute arises, to govern the conduct of an arbitration intended to resolve a dispute or disputes between themselves. Put simply, the Model Law is directed at States, while the Arbitration Rules are directed at potential (or actual) parties to a dispute.
The UNCITRAL Model Law on Cross-Border Insolvency was a model law issued by the secretariat of UNCITRAL on 30 May 1997 to assist states in relation to the regulation of corporate insolvency and financial distress involving companies which have assets or creditors in more than one state.
At present 23 jurisdictions have substantially adopted the Model Law.
The preamble to the Model Law provides:
The purpose of this Law is to provide effective mechanisms for dealing with cases of cross-border insolvency so as to promote the objectives of:
(a) Cooperation between the courts and other competent authorities of this State and foreign States involved in cases of cross-border insolvency;
(b) Greater legal certainty for trade and investment;
(c) Fair and efficient administration of cross-border insolvencies that protects the interests of all creditors and other interested persons, including the debtor;
(d) Protection and maximization of the value of the debtor’s assets; and
(e) Facilitation of the rescue of financially troubled businesses, thereby protecting investment and preserving employment.
The Model Law is designed to provide a model framework to encourage cooperation and coordination between jurisdictions. Despite earlier proposals to do so, it does not attempt to unify substantive insolvency laws, and the Model Law respects the differences among the substantive and procedural laws of states.
The Model Law defines a cross-border insolvency is one where the insolvent debtor has assets in more than one state, or where some of the creditors of the debtor are not from the state where the insolvency proceeding is taking place.
UNCITRAL published the Model Law in response to concerns that the number of cross-border insolvency cases had increased significantly during the 1990s, but national and international legal regimes equipped to address the issues raised by those cases has not evolved at a similar pace. The absence of effective cross-border insolvency regimes was thought to have resulted in inadequate and uncoordinated approaches to cross-border insolvency which were both unpredictable and time-consuming in their application, lacking both transparency and the tools necessary to address the disparities between different national laws. As a result, it had become difficult to protect the residual value of the assets of financially troubled businesses, and impeded corporate rescue culture for cross-border entities.