Innovation can help London keep its lead in arbitration, say conference speakers

Innovation can help London keep its lead in arbitration, say conference speakersLawyers need to come up with pioneering ways to ensure that London stays the forum of choice when it comes to arbitration and disputes, a London conference organised by The Lawyer will hear this week.

The call comes as other jurisdictions are rapidly developing their capabilities in direct competition to London. Speakers from Eversheds, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer and White & Case, as well as in-house lawyers from BAE Systems and Siemens, will give delegates at The Lawyer Arbitration and ­Dispute Resolution Conference on 21-22 October ideas on how to innovate.

Previewing the conference, Hilary Heilbron QC of Brick Court Chambers told The Lawyer that London, with ;its ;long ;­history, ­international experience and large number of arbitrators, can ;stay ;ahead ;of ;the ­emerging new centres.

“London has a light-touch approach and is a high-calibre supervisory ­jurisdiction, which makes it well placed to retain its lead as one of the leading ­centres of international arbitration in the world, despite the emergence of new arbitral centres in other parts of the world,” said Heilbron.

Panel member and head of international arbitration at ;Norton ;Rose ;Joe Tirado echoed Heilbron’s ­sentiments, adding that London has “a legal system that provides valuable ­certainty and reassurance in these uncertain times”.

“London remains and will continue to remain one of the premier centres for international arbitration,” said Tirado. “This is despite the recent Attorney General’s recommendation in West Tankers [2007] that may lead to the end of English courts’ ability to grant anti-suit injunctions, and the development of regional arbitration centres such as Singapore, Hong Kong and Dubai.”

However, Tirado will argue at the conference that there are key issues that need to be overcome. “The cost of arbitrating in London remains ;a ;significant ­challenge in an increasingly competitive international market,” he said.

Not all the conference speakers are advocates of London being the only forum for arbitration.

The ;International ­Chamber of Commerce’s (ICC) International Court of ­Arbitration deputy secretary general Simon Greenberg will reveal the initiatives his organisation has up its sleeve to improve arbitration processes globally.

“I’ll be telling delegates about our initiatives around the education of lawyers, arbitrators ;and ;the ­judiciary, and in terms of promoting knowledge
of arbitration through research in developing countries,” said Greenberg.

“We’re looking at different ways of assisting arbitrators and lawyers on the job and doing ;studies ;of ;the ­industry and the responses from business through the ICC Commission.”

Greenberg added that the ICC is running projects to make arbitration more time and cost-efficient. “We’ve also just created a new working group looking at discovery and e-discovery and assisting countries to develop their arbitration rules,” he said.

One delegate said the ICC initiatives will benefit ­London. “Where there’s competition, there’s quality, and London already has bags of it. We’re already streets ahead when it comes to innovation,” he said, “but if the ICC has new ideas I’m sure London will embrace them.”

The lawyer arbitration and Dispute Resolution conference: The Highlights

The Lawyer Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Conference takes place on 21-22 October at The Grosvenor Hotel, London SW1. The speakers include:

• Arthur Marriott QC, a partner at Dewey & LeBoeuf, who will open the conference with a talk on current and future arbitration trends.

• Michael McIlwrath, litigation senior counsel at GE Oil & Gas, who will pose the question of whether arbitration can be fixed?

• Simon Greenberg, the deputy secretary ­general of the ICC International Court of ­Arbitration, who will reveal ICC initiatives to improve arbitration processes worldwide.

• Matthew Shankland, a partner at Weil ­Gotshal & Manges, who will chair the debate on in-house counsel’s perception of the merits of arbitration compared with litigation and other alternative dispute resolution methods.

• Mike Lennon, a partner at Houston-­headquartered Baker Botts, who will talk about the lessons that can be learnt from across the Pond and why arbitration is so popular in the US.

• Mark Wells, a partner in Calunius Capital, who will discuss how to manage the financial risks of arbitration through third-party funding.