CIArb hosted fringe events in association with the New Statesman at both the Labour and Conservative Party Conferences this year.
The Labour Party is actively exploring policies to further what it proposes as a new economic deal. Whilst the headlines focused on plans for renationalisation of key sectors, their stance on Brexit and Labour’s ‘war gaming’ to prepare for a variety of scenarios, CIArb’s fringe explored the role alternative dispute resolution (ADR) could play to help small businesses.
CIArb’s Director of Education, Policy and Research Dr. Subo Shanmuganathan debated the issues with Shadow Minister for International Trade Bill Esterson MP and representatives from the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors and Ombudsman Services. Julia Rampen, Digital News Editor, New Statesman chaired a lively discussion which explored conflict avoidance, the need to raise awareness of the different forms of ADR and the potential impact of initiatives such as the Small Business Commissioner and Pubs Code Adjudicator. It was clear resourcing is an issue but the major focus needs to be on raising awareness and reaching a wider audience. The Shadow Minister expressed Labour’s support for ADR and their commitment to working with the sector to ensure small businesses have access to redress to deal with issues such as late payments.
There was a more sombre mood at the Conservative Party Conference where, despite emerging as the largest Party in the recent snap election and forming a minority Government, delegates were still coming to terms with losing their majority and the success of Labour’s campaign. Much attention focused on supposed tussles for power as well as the challenges and opportunities associated with EU Exit. CIArb’s fringe focused on ADR in relation to the Industrial Strategy, which is to shortly be published, and occurred against the backdrop of the recent appointment of Paul Uppal as the first Small Business Commissioner.
CIArb’s Director General Anthony Abrahams discussed the way forward for ADR in this changing environment with John Howell OBE MP, a member of the Justice Committee and Chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on ADR alongside representatives of the Federation of Small Businesses and Institute of Directors. With Jon Bernstein, former Deputy Editor of the New Statesman chairing the discussion, the panel agreed that education would be critical to promote the culture change in dispute resolution that the country needs. Anthony Abrahams urged innovation whilst John Howell OBE MP asserted that Government had a leadership role to play in using ADR clauses across its contracts.
CIArb remains neutral and continues to work with members to engage policy makers and the business community on ADR matters.