Branch Focus: Western Counties

Clifton Suspension Bridge

Our branch covers quite a wide area of the UK, from Wiltshire in the east to Cornwall in the West and Gloucestershire in the north and Dorset and Devon in the South.

We have over 330 Members, Fellows, Associates, and students and some of our members are well known Arbitrators, Adjudicators and Mediators in the UK and internationally.

Our committee covers a range of professionals, whose primary profession’s include barrister, solicitor, construction professionals and I.T. consultant, all of whom participate in Alternative Dispute Resolution. Some are third party neutrals or party representatives.

One of our successes, is that some of our committee members are also on the committees of other professional bodies, which has enabled joint events to be delivered to a much broader audience. Whilst we have missed in-person events, due to the pandemic, and the networking opportunities, that such occasions provide, we moved our seminars online. These proved more successful than could have been imagined, with hundreds of attendees, not only from our branch area, but also across the UK and globally. A recent joint event on construction adjudication had interest from people in over forty countries. Who would have thought interest in construction adjudication, could spread so far! That is an opportunity for all of us, in taking adjudication to other parts of the world and to other industries.

Coming up in the New Year on 1 February we have a hybrid in-person and live streamed joint event, with other professional bodies, on the comparison between the JCT and NEC forms of contract, when faced with the same set of factual scenarios.

We also will be having an online conference on ADR and the wider use of Adjudication in the first quarter of 2022.

How to prepare a claim for adjudication in March 2022.

At our AGM in April 2022, we plan to have a presentation on Dispute Boards and in June 2022, an event considering the role of expert witnesses in ADR and a mediation practice update in September 2022.

Throughout the year we intend to provide training courses covering adjudication and mediation, plus accelerated route courses, to the Member and Fellow grades.

Interview with Trevor Drury, Western Counties Branch Chair

How do you want to see your Branch this year?

I want to see us providing more high-quality events, both in-person and online. Unfortunately, the coronavirus pandemic is still with us, and we need to adapt to the circumstances and the needs of our membership. We really miss meeting our fellow members at events and we hope to have in-person events in the New Year, subject to any Government restrictions. However, we realise that we can reach more people, not just locally but across the world with online delivery. There is added inclusiveness because the cost to members, in terms of travel and time is no longer a barrier. Hybrid events offer a best of both worlds to members, offering them flexibility.

We need to be recruiting younger members into a Branch, as they represent the future, and we also need to encourage younger members to join our committee. Also, I would like to increase our diversity in both the Branch as a whole and the committee. 

I want to have joint ADR events with European practitioners in the coming year, with speakers from our Branch and from Europe. One of our committee members is originally from Europe and has business connections, particularly in Germany. He is leading on the collaboration, and we will hopefully start with a mediation event.

How will you implement and deliver success?

By effective communication and working collaboratively with the other professional bodies that we have connections with, we can deliver more events, and content to our members and promote the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, its members, products, and services to a wider audience. This will hopefully retain engagement with our existing members, provide value for money for their membership fee and attract new members.

How will you use or expand social networking? How have you used social networking?

The Branch has a LinkedIn page, and our committee members use their LinkedIn and Twitter accounts to also promote events. One of our committee members is quite prolific on social media and has been successful at promoting our events. By holding joint events with other professional bodies, we have also benefitted in the past from their marketing and social media messaging. We need to do more of the same, plus I am sure we can improve, by getting events advertised on social media earlier and our Branch joining other social media platforms. Individually, as committee members we can do more on social media to promote our events and other Branch activities.

What will you do to engage with younger members/students? / What have you done to engage younger members/students?

We have good relationships with the universities that provide law degrees in our area, and in the past have attended careers functions at those universities with our Branch stand. We will be continuing to promote the Branch and the institute at those universities. We will be providing introductory courses on adjudication and mediation this coming year, to engage with younger members, plus hold an accelerated route to membership course, to achieve progression for younger members from Associate to Member Grade.

How will you communicate more effectively with your members?

On becoming Chair, I have introduced a quarterly newsletter which provides information about the Branch, its committee, our events and new and information relevant to ADR. We also have a LinkedIn page and our Branch page on the CIArb website. Do you have a social media presence as a Branch? (LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter) As stated above, we have a Branch LinkedIn page, although we are not on other social media platforms. As individual committee members we use LinkedIn and Twitter to promote events. We will be looking at how we can increase Branch social media, by investigating the use of other social media platforms.