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A Herbert Smith Freehills partner has been appointed the first female President of the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA) – the country’s international dispute resolution institution.

Brenda Horrigan, the firm’s Head of International Arbitration, Australia, began her tenure leading ACICA on 15 April, almost a year after she was elected an Executive Director of the Centre’s Board.

Ms Horrigan, a US-qualified lawyer, has nearly 20 years’ experience in international arbitration and is consistently ranked in Chambers and in Global Arbitration Review’s Who’s Who: Legal as a leading arbitration practitioner.  She has practiced previously in the US, Paris, Moscow, and Shanghai, and is now based in Sydney.

Paula Hodges QC, Head of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Global Arbitration Practice, said the appointment reflects Ms Horrigan’s depth of experience in what is an increasingly important legal field.

“Arbitration in Australia is growing apace to support the increasing number of cross-border transactions taking place,” Ms Hodges said.

“At this thriving time, we are therefore particularly proud that Brenda has been elected as president of ACICA.”

“Brenda has extensive international experience from her time spent in the US, Paris, Russia and China, so is perfectly placed to help develop ACICA’s position in the world of international arbitration.”

Ms Horrigan said she was honoured by the appointment. “I am delighted to have been chosen as president of ACICA, after serving as an Executive Director for the past year,” she said.

“I would like to thank the current president, Alex Baykitch AM, for his service to ACICA, and look forward to helping steer ACICA as it moves from strength to strength.”

ACICA Secretary General, Deborah Tomkinson, said that Ms Horrigan’s experience will be invaluable to ACICA.

“ACICA is growing as an institution and is increasingly involved in highly complex matters. The depth of expertise and international experience that Brenda brings to this leadership role is very important to the institution.” Ms Tomkinson said.

ACICA and Herbert Smith Freehills are both signatories to the Equal Representation in Arbitration Pledge, which aims to increase, on an equal opportunity basis, the number of women appointed as arbitrators on an equal opportunity basis, with the ultimate goal of full gender parity.

“Brenda’s appointment as President of ACICA reflects the incredible female talent we have amongst arbitrators and arbitration practitioners in this country, and is a demonstration of our commitment to achieving gender parity in our field,” Ms Tomkinson said.