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CIArb News

Synergy and divergence between legal traditions: the conclusion

19 December 2017 News
By Nikki Nang Nilar

CIArb’s final conference in the three-part series on The Synergy and Divergence between Civil Law and Common Law in International Arbitration drew to a rapturous close in Paris on 7-8 December 2017.


The ambitious conference series sought to provide a comprehensive examination of harmonisation issues specific to each region of the world.  The first conference in Dubai focused on Asia and the Middle East, followed by the African perspective which was debated in Johannesburg and culminated in a discussion on the European and American angles in Paris.

The conference was opened by Romain Dupeyré, Master of Ceremony and Partner at DWF (France) AARPI, Prof Dr Nayla Comair-Obeid, President of CIArb, Anthony Abrahams, CIArb’s Director General and Alexis Mourre, President of the ICC, with a keynote speech by Guy Canivet, Member of the French Constitutional Council and former President of the French Cour de Cassation.  CIArb Patron and Chairman of the Board of Trustees, HE Nabil Elaraby also provided an address.

Addressing the overall notion of whether there is a need for harmonisation both of the national law of the seat of arbitration as well as the existing arbitration rules, panellists examined the particularities of different stages of the arbitral process in great depth.  

Lord Dyson chaired the panel addressing the role of legislation in developing and sustaining an arbitration friendly seat, particularly noting the ever-increasing competition between arbitral centres to provide new features in today’s globalised world.  To this end, Professor Janet Walker, C.Arb provided an overview of CIArb’s innovative initiative in conjunction with Global Arbitration Review (GAR) to establish an ongoing rating system of arbitral seats around the world.  In addressing the prospect of harmonisation at the governmental legislative level, panellists examined examples from key jurisdictions in Europe and America.  The general concluding remark from the American perspective was that achieving synergy was prima facie possible through amendments to the federal legislation, but in reality this becomes more complicated due to the intricate process of passing new legislation in the US. 

From the perspective of arbitral institutions, the consensus was that the synergy building is already in good progress due to the likes of the UNCITRAL Model Law providing a good framework.

Panellists addressed the topic from the clients’ perspective in terms of ad hoc and institutional arbitration, discussing the issues in terms of the all-important matters of time and costs. Also discussed in the panels were the civil and common law styles of advocacy.  The theme further extended to a case study in the telecommunications industry, discussing disputes in new technologies and IP rights.

The conference drew insight from the judiciary as well as academics in the quest to bridge the gap between the legal traditions with further insight from practitioners on the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), investment treaty arbitration, Brexit and third-party funding in highly enriching discussions much appreciated by all.  

Comprising over 200 participants, the conference drew high praise with one attendee commenting “This was one of the best international arbitration conferences I have ever attended” and another noting “An overall extremely extensive and excellent programme with absolutely top class speakers”.

It draws to a highly successful close of Prof Dr Nayla Comair-Obeid’s tenure as CIArb’s President for 2017 and the Institute wishes to thank her as well as all those involved for their efforts in bringing together all the key individuals in the arbitration community to discuss this unquestionably fundamental topic.

We are grateful to our sponsors for supporting this event: Obeid Law Firm (Platinum Sponsor), Lazareff Le Bars (Silver Sponsor), FTI Consulting (Silver Sponsor) as well as Deloitte (Luncheon Sponsor) and White & Case LLP (Drinks Sponsor).  We also thank ICC for their support.