Australian ADR Awards 2020

Winners Profiles

TAL Life

ADR Corporate Team of the Year, Commercial

It was a great honour and privilege for TAL to win the ADR Corporate Team of the Year 2020 at the Australian ADR Awards. This is the second year in a row that we have won the award – a testimony to the great work of the team.

TAL is a leading life insurer insuring almost 5 million Australians. In 2020, we paid $2.7 billion in claims to more than 36,901 customers and their families.

TAL’s dedicated Litigation and External Dispute Resolution (LEDR) Team ranked first by more than 10 percentage points over other large life insurers for the total number of cases at AFCA resolved by agreement through alternative dispute resolution (ADR).

ADR is an important tool in resolving customer complaints and the LEDR teams’ approach to ADR is informed by TAL’s Spirit of “doing the right thing”. The LEDR team takes an authentic, empathetic and fair approach to ADR to ensure that disputes are resolved in line with community expectations.

Winning the ADR Corporate Team of the Year award has meant further recognition and support for the LEDR team from within TAL as well as congratulations from peers within the industry for the great work that TAL does.

Thank you to the Australian Disputes Centre for this honour and we look forward to continuing to work with all of our industry colleagues over 2021.

Marius Pirrawayingi Puruntatameri

Aboriginal & Torres Straight Islander Mediator of the Year

Receiving the ATSI Mediator of the Year Award last year was a huge honour for me and the people I work with on the Tiwi Islands. Our Ponki program to help long-serving prisoners reintegrate back into the community has shown how effective mediation has benefits for the whole community and future generations.

I’ve now been more involved officially since, with NAAJA, (North Aust. Aboriginal Justice Agency) as a mediator during a court hearing here at Pirlangimpi.

And that has resulted in NAAJA writing a recommendation letter in my role as a mediator, which I’m grateful for.

More recently between both employees of our Tiwi College  independent school, which I was the inaugural chairperson of.

These experiences have strengthened my confidence and understanding when working in sensitive and confidential mediation work equipped with my past experiences as a qualified health worker and teacher.

My recognition as a recipient of the 2020 ATSI mediator award has been made possible because of Leanne Liddle and her staff in the Aboriginal Justice Agency so am very grateful.

John Rundell

2020 Expert Determiner of the Year

John is a senior chartered accountant in public practice with multi-jurisdictional experience across Asia and globally with extensive experience in ADR. He holds senior membership as Fellow with numerous professional organisations in both accounting and ADR and is a member of a number of ADR panels such as the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration, Shenzhen International Arbitration Centre, Kigali International Arbitration Centre (Africa) to name a cross section. In 2008, John became the Chair of the ADR Committee of Law Asia holding the role for 10 years. 

As an Expert Determiner, John has conducted around 50 Expert Determinations relating to diverse matters. In 2020, John had completed successful Binding Expert Determinations involving a medical practice, the working capital requirements and implications in relation of a large mining equipment manufacturer, and the completion of accounts for a specialist importer, distributor and machinist of engineering plastics and heavy equipment as well as providing court expert witness reports on accounting and finance matters. John continues to actively promote and demonstrate the benefits of ADR, in particular, Expert Determination as a cost-effective approach that can provide a final and binding decision to resolve disputes where commercial transactions must be completed for businesses to continue to operate.

So what has it meant for me being selected as ED of the year?

Being the appointed expert can quite challenging, and often it is not the subject matter of the dispute but the harder challenge is often in getting the parties to work collaboratively with me as I address the issues in dispute.

I was thrilled and honoured to have been selected by my ADR peers as winner of the ADC inaugural Expert Determiner of the year. The publicity has helped me to promote the use of expert determination as a final and binding way to resolve disputes which require subject matter expertise. I can only encourage lawyers to insert expert determination in the dispute resolution clause of contracts, particularly those involving the purchase and sale of businesses.


Gitanjali Bajaj

Arbitration Practitioner of the Year 2020

Co-Head of International Arbitration (Asia-Pacific), Sydney-based partner Gitanjali Bajaj adds another win for the team as the 2020 Arbitration Practitioner of the Year. With a strong focus on the infrastructure and construction, oil and gas, transport, power and clean energy sectors, Gitanjali has been praised for her in-depth sector knowledge and practical understanding of global arbitration institutions. When not advising clients, Gitanjali regularly contributes her expertise to the industry – Gitanjali is an Executive Director of ACICA, and over the past 12 months she has been a panellist for various conferences and webinars, including those hosted by Women in Law, CIArb, DFAT, ADC and ACICA.

Speaking on her ADR Award and that of her team, Gitanjali said “It is a real honour to win two awards at the 2020 Australian Disputes Centre’s Alternate Dispute Resolution Awards. The ADC is Australia’ leading organisation dedicated to advancing timely and cost effective use of ADR processes. Our selection by the ADC from a field of outstanding arbitration teams and practitioners is reflective of our team’s hard work and commitment to excellence in this field. We are very proud of this achievement and look forward to new successes in the future.”

You are rightfully proud Gitanjali and team. The calibre of ADR Award nominees means that these categories are hotly contested. Congratulations on your successes!

Judith Levine

Arbitrator of the Year 2020

After spending 17 years working abroad in private sector dispute resolution and international civil service, 2020 Arbitrator of the Year Judith Levine has had a busy arbitration practice since returning home to Sydney. In the past 12 months, Judith has acted as a sole, presiding and co-arbitrator in disputes spanning across the ICC, SIAC and CAS Rules and as an independent privilege inspector appointed in an investor-state dispute under UNCITRAL.

In addition to her in-depth expertise on public international law, foreign investment and commercial contract cases, Judith has drawn on her wealth of experience in arbitral procedures to assist with her process management, having worked for over a decade at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, and more recently (and more locally) in her service as Vice-President of ACICA. Pivoting to virtual proceedings has been a challenge that Judith has taken to with ease. Teaming up with the PCA and IDRC to coordinate a hybrid hearing with 65 people across London, Australia, Europe and the Middle East is just one example of her flexibility in 2020!

Making the move to run your international practise back at home, after nearly two decades away, is a big leap for anyone. “I was thrilled to receive the Arbitrator of the Year Award this year” said Judith. “The recognition reinforced my decision to move home and establish an independent arbitrator practice working on international cases from a Sydney base.”

“We have such a talented and dynamic community of arbitration professionals in Australia” continued Judith. “So many of the award winners and nominees have shown it is possible to succeed at international dispute resolution from here, especially with the technological advances everyone has had to embrace this year.”

We wholeheartedly agree. Congratulations Judith!