Sarah Malik FCIArb

Why have you decided to specialise in ADR? What attracted you to this area of law?

As a Barrister by profession, Dispute Resolution is close to my heart and have had the benefit of litigating, mediating and arbitrating, I am able to take the best of all forms of ADR and utilize them effectively. I am solutions oriented and ADR provides solutions.

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge in your career as a female practitioner in arbitration?

As a female practitioner of 20 years, I am fortunate in always having been able to articulate my position clearly. I find that unfortunately sometimes female practitioners are doubted in terms of commitment, especially if they are mothers. This attitude is slowly changing but requires senior and established female practitioners to stand their ground and encourage and support others to ensure that they are confident in speaking out against any inappropriate behaviours.

Are there any interesting developments in the field of ADR in the jurisdiction you are based in?

ADR is increasingly becoming more popular in the UAE. Mediation is being utilized as an effective manner of ADR. With the introduction of the UAE Arbitration Law in 2018, the UAE is firmly set as a recognised international arbitration hub.

How has a membership with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators benefitted your career?

I undertook modules 3 and 4 with the CIArb. Being a Fellow of the Institute gives credibility and allows interaction and networking with like-minded professionals who share similar aims and goals. The Institute is collaborative and I have had the benefit of being instructed by fellow CIArb members.

What do you consider to be your biggest achievement in the field thus far?

In August 2018, I established a boutique dispute resolution practice - SOL International Ltd, specializing in litigation and ADR. Within 6 months of establishing, SOL has been recognised as ‘Leaders in Dispute Resolution 2019’ by the MEA Market UAE Business Awards. I lead the international commercial litigation and arbitration at post-graduate level at Middlesex University in Dubai and am regularly invited to moderate and speak at ADR conferences/seminars with world-leading arbitrators/practitioners.

Tell us about your interests, hobbies or any out of work activities.

I am a mum to two beautiful children. I enjoy the gym, dancing, travelling and teaching. I believe in working hard and enjoying life.

Tell us a short war story from your ADR experience.

Recently I was involved in arbitration with an all-male panel and male opposition Counsel. Inappropriate comments about my commitment to work were made by opposing Counsel in relation to a request for a 7-day extension for submitting closing submissions during a period of vacation in the UAE. I ensured that the matter was dealt with at the highest level, not only ensuring that the transcript recorded my concerns but also made sure that my opponent's Managing Partner was made aware of the conduct of their employee at Tribunal. This resulted in written apologies to both the Tribunal and myself from opposing Counsel. A small but significant example highlighting the importance of female practitioners speaking up when faced with unwarranted and inappropriate comments/behaviour.