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Leigh Herd, MCIArb

 Leigh Herd

Leigh Herd MCIArb is a construction disputes solicitor at Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP.  Earlier this year, she became the Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the Scottish Branch of the CIArb after a spell as their Young Members Convenor.

With the ADR scene currently burgeoning in Scotland, the Scottish Branch has had a busy year.  Leigh outlines the key highlights and ADR developments generally from Scotland.

You became Honorary Secretary and Treasurer of the Scottish Branch earlier this year after a spell as their YMG convenor.  What are the year’s highlights for CIArb Scotland?

The Scottish Branch has had a very busy 2017. There have been many events and highlights of the year, but if I were to pick three they would be:

  • the Branch’s Annual Dinner in March, which had a record 150 guests attend at the Trades Hall in Glasgow for a night of fantastic food, engaging speakers and great company
  • the election of a new Chairman in April, with Neil Kelly standing down after a successful two years, and the Branch’s Richard Farndale, the previous Vice-Chairman (and before that, my predecessor in the role of Honorary Secretary and Treasurer) taking on the role of Chairman
  • the Branch’s own Dispute Resolution Conference, The Shifting Sands of Dispute Resolution in Scotland in October. The Branch was delighted with the success of the Dispute Resolution Conference, which was down to the interesting and thought-provoking speakers, the wonderful venue, and an impressive number of 140 delegates.

How did you come to be involved with CIArb? Tell us about your route to membership.

I became involved with CIArb when I was nearing the end of my legal traineeship with Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP. I knew at that stage that I was continuing my legal career with Shepherd and Wedderburn in the field of contentious construction, and wanted to find out more about arbitration, adjudication and mediation. I attended the Associate course in early 2014 and became an Associate member of the CIArb later that year. During 2015 I completed my membership examinations, together with a great group of candidates across a whole range of professions. Our Branch offers a range of education courses for those wishing to become Associates, Members or Fellows, and it’s a great way for people from various different professions to learn about ADR together, sharing their experiences of the processes.

I became involved in the Branch’s committee shortly after becoming a member, as I wanted to get more involved in the Branch events and the promotion of ADR in Scotland. I joined the committee as an ordinary member, but assisting with the Young Member events. Later I became the Young Members’ Convenor for a short period, assisted by Laura McEwen, who is now our current Young Members convenor, before taking on the role of Honorary Secretary and Treasurer. I have been in my current role since February this year, and am currently enjoying it very much. So far so good!

What aspect of your work do you find most rewarding?  

In my role as Honorary Secretary I carry out a variety of different tasks for the Branch, including processing applications for adjudicators and arbitrators, assisting with events and conferences, liaising with the committee, assisting with the education courses and running the administrative arm of the Branch.

What I find most rewarding is when a Branch event is a success and seeing attendees really engaging with the topics we have chosen. Our recent conference was a great example of that, as we had various break-out sessions in the course of the afternoon to discuss the use of arbitration in different areas, such as energy, family, personal injury and property. Each session featured lively discussions, showing that the individuals were really engaged in what was being said, and wanted to explore how arbitration and ADR could be used within their own field.

Tell us more about the ADR landscape in Scotland?  What works and what are the challenges?

The ADR landscape in Scotland is pretty active at the moment. In my role as solicitor at Shepherd and Wedderburn LLP I come across various types of dispute resolution, ranging from traditional litigation in the Scottish courts to adjudication, mediation, expert determination and arbitration.

As in other parts of the UK, adjudication remains hugely popular for construction disputes, with the “rough justice” approach, within a restricted period of time, still being favoured by the industry. There is no doubt that adjudication has been a success and I have no doubt it will continue to be used for a long time to resolve construction disputes in Scotland.

Mediation as a process is being discussed more and more when dealing with a variety of disputes, including large multi-party ones. The Branch is very supportive of this through its Mediation Convenor, Kahleen Crawford, and also the various mediation-focused events run by, or supported by, the Branch.

Arbitration remains a process that is not used as often as it arguably ought to be in Scotland. The greatest challenge, or obstacle, that arbitration has to face, is the history of it perhaps not being used as effectively as it could have been. However, with the new(ish) Arbitration (Scotland) Act 2010, Scotland now has a great system set in place for arbitration. There is a positive buzz around the market at the moment in Scotland as to the use of arbitration, both in traditional areas such as construction and property and also in new areas, such as personal injury. The Faculty of Advocates is adding to this in the domestic market through the introduction of its “FOA Arbitration” service, and of course north of the border we are also fortunate to have the Scottish Arbitration Centre, promoting arbitration both domestically and internationally. With ICCA coming to Edinburgh in 2020, one can only hope that the current buzz about arbitration continues to grow.