Evolving Asia, New Frontiers in Dispute Resolution: CIArb (Malaysia Branch) International Arbitration Conference 2018 Keynote Address

At the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Malaysia Branch) International Arbitration Conference 2018, Peter Godwin, the Managing Partner of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Kuala Lumpur office gave a keynote address. The topic of the address was “Evolving Asia, New Frontiers in Dispute Resolution”.

The text of Peter’s keynote is set out below.

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Recent Developments in India-related International Arbitration

Herbert Smith Freehills has issued the latest edition of its Indian international arbitration e-bulletin.

In this issue we consider various court decisions, which cover issues such as the applicability of the Arbitration Amendment Act 2015, binding non-signatories to an award, enforcement of an award before the National Company Law Tribunal, and the continued pro-arbitration approach of the Indian courts. In other news, we consider the continued rise of institutional arbitration in India, a detailed analysis of the proposed amendments to the Arbitration Act, as well as India-related bilateral investment treaty news (and other developments).

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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.

In Asia the data revealed a clear desire for enhanced regulation of mediation compared to Oceania. At first blush, this could be said to be rooted in civil versus common law traditions. But only one of the Asian countries to host a GPC event, Thailand, has a civil-law system. The reason appears to be more complex: enhanced regulation, particularly around enforcement, would lend credibility to mediation in Asia as a viable alternative to litigation or arbitration. This is particularly so in the context of commercial cross-border disputes. UNCITRAL’s proposed New York-style Convention on the mutual recognition and enforcement of mediation settlement agreements is likely to be applauded in Asia and may hail an inflection point for the use of mediation.

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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.

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GPC Series on the future of dispute resolution: first event in Singapore on 17-18 March 2016

Herbert Smith Freehills is proud to be a global platinum sponsor of the Global Pound Conference (GPC) Series 2016-17.  This ambitious worldwide conference series will engage all key stakeholders in a conversation about dispute resolution and how it should be used in commercial and civil conflicts in the 21st Century.

Singapore will host the first of a 36-city conference series on the 17-18 March 2016, that will bring together users of disputes resolution services, as well as advisors, providers and other stakeholders. Together, we will discuss how we can improve processes to resolve commercial and civil disputes (whether this be through litigation, arbitration, or alternative dispute resolution processes).  Further details of the programme are found below, as well as information on how to register.

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Trends in choice of governing law & jurisdiction in cross-border transactions in Asia: Singapore Academy of Law publishes study

On 10 January 2016, the Singapore Academy of Law (SAL) published the results of its study on preferences for the choice of governing law and jurisdiction made by those involved in cross-border transactions "in Singapore and the region" (the Study).  The Study, which was commissioned by the SAL's International Promotion of Singapore Law Committee, reflects the views of around 500 commercial law practitioners and in-house counsel who have involvement in cross-border transactions. The Study results can be accessed here

The Study responses suggest the growth in (i) the internationalisation of transactions in the region, (ii) the importance of Singapore law and (iii) Singapore as a preferred choice of forum for the resolution of disputes.  The most noteworthy points are highlighted below.

However, the value in the Study in signalling the comparative strength of Singapore's position as an international centre of dispute resolution will be determined by the demographics of the Study population, and, in particular, how many of the respondents are based outside Singapore and in which jurisdictions. 

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Launch of landmark global conference series on the future of dispute resolution

Herbert Smith Freehills is pleased to announce the launch of The Global Pound Conference (GPC) Series 2016-17.

The aim of this ambitious worldwide conference series is to build a global conversation about the current landscape of civil and commercial dispute resolution and how dispute resolution tools and institutions should respond to the needs of 21st century business.  In particular, it aims to gather standardised and actionable data on what users of dispute resolution mechanisms need and want and whether those needs are being met.

Over 25 countries worldwide have already committed to holding a GPC event, with more being added. The launch will take place at a two-day conference in Singapore on 17-18 March 2016 and the last event is scheduled to be held in London in July 2017.  Other cities will include Hong Kong, Paris, Dubai, Madrid, Sydney, New York and Frankfurt/Berlin.

The Series, which is being led by the International Mediation Institute (IMI), is being sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills as well as other global partners: Shell,  AkzoNobel, the Beijing Arbitration Commission (BAC),  JAMS, and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR).

Pivotal to Herbert Smith Freehills' pre-eminent disputes practice is a deep understanding of the importance of working with our clients to assess how they can best make use of the various dispute resolution mechanisms available to them.  We have therefore long been at the forefront of efforts to explore what corporates and other organisations actually need from dispute resolution processs and how the existing mechanisms can be improved to meet those needs.  In particular, our award-winning alternative dispute resolution (ADR) practice has undertaken extensive client research studies into how corporates develop strategies for using ADR and we were the lead sponsors of the pilot event for the GPC series, held in London last year. 

We are therefore proud to be the Global Platinum Sponsor of the GPC series.   Alexander Oddy, Partner and member of the GPC Central Organising Group said:

 "The GPC Series is a really exciting and unique opportunity for all stakeholders in the dispute resolution community to shape the way we do things in the 21st Century. It is a chance to understand what corporates and other organisations really need, to share ideas and learning and develop new processes that are fit for purpose.

"What we have today is a relatively developed set of dispute resolution processes but we need to understand how we can use those more effectively in combination and in culturally sensitive ways in the future."

Why the 'Pound Conference' Series?

The original Pound Conference, held in the USA in 1976 (and named in honour of Roscoe Pound, the reforming Dean of Harvard Law School in the 1920s and 30s), was the event widely credited as the stimulus for the development of the range of ADR processes used today. The new Global Pound Conference series is intended to be as ground-breaking and important for corporate dispute resolution as the 1976 conference was.  

Who will attend the GPC events?

Major stakeholders in dispute resolution will attend the GPC Series including businesses, lawyers, chambers of commerce, academics, judges, arbitrators, mediators, policy makers, government officials and others. They will collaborate at each of the conferences around the world to discuss how existing tools and techniques available in dispute resolution are working in practice. They will also stimulate new ideas and generate actionable data on the dispute resolution needs of corporates and other organisations, both domestically and internationally.

How will the GPC gather data? 

The events worldwide will share a common technology platform to enable all participants to vote on standardised core questions about the current and future dispute resolution landscape. The results of the voting for each question will be available immediately to delegates at each event, for analysis and discussion.

What will be the output of the GPC? 

The GPC Series will culminate in a report at the end of 2017, interpreting the data gathered globally to help shape how dispute resolution will be conducted for years to come. The resulting data from all of the events will be publicly available to anyone wishing to research stakeholder views on dispute resolution.  The data collected at individual conferences will be published following each event and we will be providing periodic updates on this blog throughout the 18 month period.

How can I get involved in the GPC?

The GPC gives all those interested in civil and commercial dispute resolution a say in how dispute resolution should evolve. We invite you to participate in this exciting project by attending a GPC event near you over the next 18 months.   The dedicated website www.globalpoundconference.org contains full information about the GPC, the planned events and how to get involved.

Click here​ to watch a brief video explaining the benefits of attend​ing the GPC Series.