ADR for employment lawyers: lessons from the Civil Justice Council?

Peter Frost, Partner in our London office, has published a post on our Employment Notes blog reviewing the current and potential use of ADR in employment disputes.  The post, which was first published in the Employment Lawyers Association (ELA) Briefing March 2019, can be accessed here.

As we have previously reported, Peter has co-chaired various reports on this issue by the ELA’s Arbitration and ADR Group.   The findings of those reports are discussed in the briefing “Employment ADR: The future” prepared by our Employment team in 2018,  which also considered data collected during the 2016-17 Global Pound Conference Series in the context of employment disputes in the key jurisdictions of Australia, France, Germany, Spain and the UK.

If you are interested in discussing the use of alternative methods for resolving employment disputes, whether that be introducing a workplace mediation scheme or exploring options for resolving an ad hoc dispute, please do get in touch with Peter or your usual Herbert Smith Freehills contact.

 

New convention on the enforcement of mediation settlement agreements approved

On 26 June, at the 51st session of UNCITRAL, final drafts for a Convention on the Enforcement of Mediation Settlements and corresponding Model Law were approved. This paves the way for adoption by UNCITRAL’s Commission later this year. It is understood that the Convention will be called the Singapore Mediation Convention and will be signed at a ceremony in Singapore in 2019. The Convention must then be ratified by at least three member states to come into force.

Approval of the drafts represents the culmination of several years’ work by UNCITRAL Working Group II. Its aim has been to implement an international regime for the enforcement of mediated settlements broadly akin to the 1958 New York Convention for the enforcement of arbitral awards. This will increase the attraction of mediation for international parties, with all its well-known cost efficiencies and other potential benefits.

The initiative stems from a concern that the use of mediation to resolve international disputes has been impeded by the fact that, unless a  settlement reached via mediation is in the context of a pending arbitration and can be converted into an arbitral award,  parties can only enforce it in the same way as any other contract. In an international context, this can involve potentially difficult (and usually lengthy) processes to obtain a court judgment and then enforce it in a foreign jurisdiction.

Whilst problems of enforcement of mediated settlements have been sparse in practice (certainly compared to court judgments or arbitral awards), the Convention will no doubt add credibility to mediation as an international dispute resolution process. It will also make mediation particularly well suited to cross-border disputes.  At the Global Pound Conference series, delegates in Asia, Africa, the Middle East and Latin America all revealed a desire for legislation or conventions to promote the recognition and enforcement of settlements. This may reflect the varied and complex legal and political frameworks in these regions. Many of those surveyed manage businesses and disputes across several borders, where legal regimes can vary from stable, tested and familiar to those that are only a decade old. The call for regulation and certainty is even more critical as the pace of development intensifies through new trade treaties and investment, and massive initiatives such as the Belt and Road. The Convention and Model Law look set to respond well to this demand and may hail an inflection point for the use of mediation in these developing regions.

Materials approved on 26 June have not yet been made available on the relevant UNCITRAL webpage.  However they will in due course be posted on this page, which currently contains the most recent drafts (from February 2018) together with other details of the initiative.

Dispute resolution in Asia-Pacific: Parties seek efficient processes and enforceable outcomes

Following our report on the Global Pound Conference series, which brought together over 4000 stakeholders at 28 conferences worldwide, our analysis of the Asia Pacific results reveals different demands in Asia and Oceania.

Six Asia Pacific cities hosted conferences to assess how dispute resolution can be improved: Singapore; Hong Kong; Chandigarh, India; Bangkok, Thailand; Sydney, Australia and Auckland, New Zealand. Each conference addressed the demand side (commercial party perspectives on dispute resolution); the supply side (what advisers and providers are delivering to commercial parties); the key obstacles and challenges; and what needs to be addressed to effect change.

Region-wide, the data highlights that commercial parties want to use mediation and other ADR processes more, either alone or as an adjunct to adversarial proceedings. However, the data shows that the market is not responding adequately. As a result, mediation remains under-utilised, and actual use lags behind positive attitudes to it. Unless parties and their advisors actively take a different course (for example through inserting escalation clauses in contracts, actively proposing mediation at the point of dispute, or by following mandatory mediation protocols), there is likely to remain a perpetuation of the “same old processes” – litigation and arbitration.

Read more analysis of the Asia Pacific results on our Asia Disputes Notes blog here.

ADR in employment disputes

The Herbert Smith Freehills employment team has published a briefing examining the role of ADR within employment disputes, including considering the findings outlined in the recently released Global Pound Conference Report in the context of employment disputes in the key jurisdictions of Australia, France, Germany, Spain and the UK.

The briefing discusses the availability – and pros and cons – of various ADR methods for employment issues in those jurisdictions.  As we have previously reported, one of our London partners, Peter Frost, has co-chaired (with Paul Goulding QC of Blackstone Chambers) various reports on this issue by the Employment Lawyers Association’s Arbitration and ADR Group, and the article also reflects on those findings.

Click here to read the briefing.

Global Pound Conference report published

The Global Pound Conference series – a unique and ambitious initiative to inform how civil and commercial disputes are resolved in the 21st century – brought together over 4000 dispute resolution stakeholders, at 28 conferences spanning 24 countries worldwide.

Herbert Smith Freehills, global founding sponsor of the series, has teamed up with PwC and IMI (International Mediation Institute) to identify key insights that emerge from the extensive voting data collected during the series. With a focus on the needs of corporate users of dispute resolution, this ground-breaking report challenges the traditional and fundamental notions of what clients want and how lawyers should represent them in a dispute. We identify four key global themes along with four notable regional differences.

Global themes emerging from the voting data reveal:

  • Efficiency is the key priority of parties when choosing dispute resolution processes.  Most dispute resolution continues to have as its frame of reference an adversarial process (litigation or arbitration) based on asserted legal rights. Yet two thirds of in-house counsel canvassed at GPC events said they require more efficiency in dispute resolution. This questions whether traditional dispute resolution processes still meet the needs of end users.

  • Parties expect greater collaboration from advisors in dispute resolution. Around two thirds of in-house counsel said they need to see more collaboration from their lawyers. This applies when lawyers are interacting with both  clients and opponents. This questions traditional notions of how lawyers should represent clients. Is the zealous advocate, fighting their client’s corner tenaciously at all costs, still appropriate?

  • Global interest in the use of pre-dispute protocols and mixed-mode dispute resolution. With the data pointing towards a more collaborative and efficient approach, unsurprisingly delegates felt that disputing parties should be encouraged to consider processes like mediation before they commence formal proceedings. The data also showed a growing desire by parties to use mediation in parallel with litigation and arbitration.

  • Some uncomfortable home truths for lawyers. In-house counsel were judged to be change enablers. As such, they shoulder a significant responsibility to encourage their organisations (and, if necessary, their external lawyers) to consider dispute resolution options more carefully, including using processes like mediation. In contrast, 70% of global delegates said external lawyers were the primary obstacles to change in commercial dispute resolution.

These insights show the potential of the GPC series to inform further studies and discussions across the world. Download your copy of our report here to learn more.

To discuss the content of this report and its impact on your organisation’s approach to dispute resolution, please contact the authors.

 

An international convention on the enforcement of mediated settlements – UNCITRAL moves one step closer

The UNCITRAL working group that has for several years now been considering the potential for an international enforcement regime for international mediation has now completed its work and produced draft instruments.

At its most recent meeting in New York, the UNCITRAL Working Group II (Dispute Settlement – formerly Arbitration and Conciliation) approved a draft convention and a draft amended Model Law on international settlement agreements resulting from mediation. Continue reading

Global Pound Conference series – new online voting system now open

The Global Pound Conference (GPC) series concluded on 6 July, with the final conference held at the Guildhall in London. This landmark project (of which Herbert Smith Freehills is the lead sponsor)  has seen more than 3,000 corporate and disputes professionals come together in conferences spanning 29 cities across the globe throughout 2016-17, with many more following and discussing the series online and at other events.

Through interactive electronic voting at the individual conferences on a set of core questions, the series has gathered data aimed at improving systems for the resolution of commercial disputes in the 21st century – spanning court processes, arbitration and ADR.   We believe this is a unique set of data that has never been collected before.  Amongst other things, it will provide a unique insight into what organisations are currently doing to avoid conflict and save money through innovative uses of the key dispute resolution processes.

However, given that many people were unable to attend a local GPC event, GPC has now opened an online voting system, to allow a wider audience to provide input on the core questions.  If you were unable to vote and would like to do so, please click here to vote now.   The online voting system will be open until 31 July 2017  and should take no more than 15 minutes to complete.

We encourage you to add your voices about how to shape the future of commercial dispute resolution and improve access to justice in the 21st century.

 

Global Pound Conference Hong Kong – a mandate for change

Hong Kong's status as a leading international dispute resolution hub is well-known. It enjoys a strong, independent judiciary as well as world class international arbitration services. Mediation and other forms of ADR are heavily supported by a myriad of institutions. Although not a compulsory requirement, mediation in the context of civil litigation tends to be interpreted by commercial parties as a mandatory step. Against this backdrop, delegates voted at the recent Global Pound Conference Hong Kong, which saw over 200 delegates from across Hong Kong's disputes market congregate to discuss their approach to commercial dispute resolution. Hong Kong's Secretary for Justice, Chief Justice and Solicitor General headlined the conference.

Click here for our ebulletin on the Hong Kong results, and here for an article on technology in dispute resolution, featuring partner May Tai.

Click here to download our synopsis and infographics on the Hong Kong data as featured on our ADR hub.

Click here to download the aggregated results from the first 18 Global Pound Conference events, which have taken place in 12 countries in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. This includes the very first analysis of the overall trends set to shape the future of dispute resolution globally.

The above provide insights for all stakeholders  – commercial parties, lawyers, experts, judges, arbitrators, mediators and government – on the areas of focus for Hong Kong as it seeks to maintain  – and expand – its position as a leading dispute resolution centre.

Mediation in Hong Kong and the Global Pound Conference: article published

Julian Copeman, May Tai and Anita Phillips discuss their client research and the outputs of the recent Global Pound Conference to assess what is required to bring mediation into the mainstream for commercial parties in Hong Kong. Click here to access their article in Asian Dispute Review, which was published on 3 April 2017.

Consultation on the relationship between courts and ADR in Europe

A consultation has been launched  "to consider the concerns that have arisen in Europe as a result of the exponential growth of numerous different forms of alternative dispute resolution".  

The paper, entitled "The Relationship between Formal and Informal Justice: the Courts and Alternative Dispute Resolution", is a joint project by the The European Law Institute and the European Network of Councils for the Judiciary (the latter chaired by Sir Geoffrey Vos, Chancellor of the High Court).

The consultation's focus is on how the interface between courts and ADR processeses is working in Europe. It seeks views on whether identified concerns can be addressed by developing statements of best practice or models, to be followed by both courts and ADR providers when assessing what dispute resolution process should be adopted in a particular dispute.

The interface between courts and ADR processes is of course a key issue being discussed more globally in the ongoing Global Pound Conference (GPC) series, and it will be interesting to see how the data and commentary generated out of the GPC (following the final event in London in July 2017) compares to the conclusions from this consultation (the final report on which is planned for the end of 2017). 

Continue reading