Arbitration leaders join forces in Brisbane

05 December 2019 By Emma Ryan

Arbitration practitioners from five continents and 15 jurisdictions have gathered in Brisbane to mark the 2019 International Arbitration Conference.

Facilitated by ACICA and CIArb Australia, and backed by the High Court’s Justice Patrick Keane AC, the 2019 International Arbitration Conference was held at the Westin Brisbane last month.

The event featured a line-up of arbitration luminaries including Paula Hodges QC, the president of the London Court of International Arbitration; Matt Gearing QC, the chair of the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre; Chan Leng Sun SC, the deputy chairman of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre; and Dr Fuyong Chen, the deputy chair of the Beijing International Arbitration Centre.

“In his keynote address the Honourable Justice Keane AC advocated for quality control” of the arbitration process to ensure its success. His honour said that the quality of decision-making is just as important to parties who have chosen arbitration as it is to those who have chosen litigation, and that competence and diligence should be the goal of every arbitrator,” a statement from CIArb explained.

“The speech alluded to the many Australian cases which had contributed to jurisprudence in international arbitration.”

The first session of the day shared international perspectives on arbitration in the Middle East and parts of Asia.

“Dubai-based Anne Hoffmann said that arbitration is fully accepted by users in the Middle East; the hotspot of arbitration being the UAE and specifically, Dubai,” CIArb said.

The second session featured a conversation with Ms Hodges, led by Caroline Kenny QC.

“Ms Hodges spoke about a distinguishing feature of the LCIA Arbitration Rules being to ensure that counsel comply with certain ethical standards contained in the Annex to the LCIA Rules, which gives tribunals the power to investigate alleged violations of the standards and impose certain sanctions in relation to any such violation,” CIArb’s statement said.

Meanwhile, session three, chaired by Jeremy Quan-Sing from Allens’ Perth office focused on arbitration in the energy and resources industry. During the conference, Mr Quan-Sing revealed that a WA Arbitration Initiative, which looked at the nature of arbitration activity with a Western Australia connection in the 2017/18 financial year, concluded that 75 per cent of all reported arbitrations related to either the construction or oil and gas and mining industries.

Session four spoke to China’s “One Belt, One Road” initiative, chaired by Mr Leng Sun.

“Dr Fuyong Chen spoke about China’s International Commercial Courts, which [have] two branches: one in Shenzhen to deal with disputes arising out of the ‘Belt & Road’ maritime road; and one in Xi’an to deal with disputes in relation to the overland Belt,” CIArb’s statement explained.

Following lunch, the event hosted dispute-specific panels dedicated to both intellectual property and mergers and acquisitions. The former heard pivotal insight from Professor Jenni Lightowlers, dean, of Deakin Law School (chair on the IP panel), Cologne-based Dr Rouven Bodenheimer and Hong Kong’s Winnie Tam SC.

The latter heard from Andrew McDougall, from White & Case in Paris, and Singapore-based Paul Sandosham from Clifford Chance.

“The next session concerned construction and infrastructure disputes, chaired by Sandy Thompson QC. Stephen Hibbert treated the audience to an overview of the Qatar rail – Doha Metro, complete with a short video,” CIArb said.

“Mr Hibbert also shared with us a rather novel feature of an arbitration agreement in that project which provided that any arbitration would be delayed until the end of the project, even if the contract was terminated.

“Frances Williams from Corrs Brisbane considered stop-clock arbitrations to be a worthy process to cut through the inefficiencies of arbitration.”

The final session of the day concerned the appointment of arbitrators from an institutional and a corporate perspective. The session was chaired by Professor Doug Jones AO.

“Matthew Gearing QC demonstrated that the statistics [shows] that institutions are driving gender/age/racial diversity more than the parties, and that the LCIA, in particular, is leading the charge,” CIArb noted.

“The corporate perspective was given by Scheherazade Walter. Ms Walter explained the apparent reluctance on the part of parties: the client is interested in this arbitration. It is not interested in furthering the cause of diversity for the good of arbitration more generally.”

Arbitration leaders join forces in Brisbane
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