“Arbitration law is nothing more than procedural machinery, with an elegant overlay of juristic values and procedural aspiration,” stated Professor Neil Andrews to a packed audience at the highly regarded Roebuck Lecture on 1 June 2017 which forms one of the annual highlights of the CIArb events calendar.
The President of CIArb, Professor Dr Nayla Comair-Obeid, gave an opening address at the lecture which was not only highly oversubscribed with a long waiting list but also held amongst its attentive crowd, the esteemed Professor Derek Roebuck MCIArb, the person in whose honour the event is named; as well as the eminent Neil Kaplan CBE QC SBS C.Arb, whose contribution to the development and growth of arbitration in Hong Kong, often has him described as “the father of Hong Kong arbitration”.
The question of how commercial arbitration as a system could be improved and expanded to attract more users rested on a proper appreciation of the responsibilities borne by those involved or interested in arbitration and the procedural rights which parties have within that process, he said.
He reflected first on the responsibilities of those engaged in the arbitral process, which comprised the lawyers, the tribunal, arbitral institutions, the courts, the legal system of ‘the seat’ and the wider international legal order.
The procedural rights parties have when they go to arbitration were then examined, encompassing three stages: (i) pre-commencement, the right to select arbitration; (ii) process rights, the right to a confidential, speedy and efficient arbitration and (iii) the outcome right, the right to receive an award which is binding and enforceable.
He pointed out that in an age where the tendency is for arbitration to become enmeshed in an ever-complex and bewildering web of rules, it was important to resist the propensity to overcomplicate matters and bear in mind the relatively slimline booklets of the LCIA (2014), CIArb (2015) or the ICC (2017) rules.
Professor Andrews remarked:
Arbitration is the practice of an exacting discipline by a community of procedural experts. It is entirely dependent on human goodwill and co-operation. That must be founded on a proper appreciation of the responsibilities borne by those involved or interested in arbitration.
Arbitration’s rule book should not become an ever-expanding spider’s web in which the parties are eventually eaten alive in a leisurely arachno-fest.
The event concluded with a customary question and answer session followed by a networking reception where conversation and wine freely flowed and the English summer sun made a welcome appearance to cap off a roundly successful evening.
Read a copy of the full lecture.
Roebuck Lecture 2018
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