CIArb Features

Thoughts on London International Disputes Week from YMG

30 May 2022

Noreen Kidunduhu, Chair of the Young Members Group reflects on London International Disputes Week which took place 9 to 13 May 2022.

The theme of this year’s London International Disputes Week (LIDW) 2022 was ‘Dispute Resolution: Global, Sustainable, Ethical?’. The Conference’s sessions offered crucial insights on global sustainability in dispute resolution as well as corporate social, ethical and environmental responsibility and related issues.

The week kicked off with clarion calls from Lucy Greenwood and Jenny Hindley to practitioners to reduce the environmental impact of their practices through use of technology to minimize use of paper and to limit travel.

On day two of the Conference, various panellists pointed out how sustainability issues are impacting client businesses. Piers Rake (FTI) spoke of shareholders and investors demanding climate risk disclosures and reporting that extends beyond identifying the risks to detailing ways in which the risks will be mitigated. Thanasi Trantas (HSBC) noted that, increasingly, shareholders’ derivative actions are being brought against directors for breach of their fiduciary duties violated in failing to take adequate action to disclose or report climate risks appropriately. He also observed that litigation could be preferred as a dispute resolution mechanism for ESG and sustainability disputes because the publicity offered by litigation puts pressure on corporates to make changes.

Well-being and mental health were also discussed during the Conference with Lady Justice Carr acknowledging that legal practice can have detrimental effects on practitioners. She urged lawyers to be deliberate about self-care.

On how to equip and support young lawyers, the panel composed of Dr. Lynda Shaw, Brian Stuart, Marily Paralika, Nigel Spencer and moderated by William Hooper –discussed how empathy is key in office interactions as well as with clients. Further, that senior lawyers should be open to new ways of thinking, acting, and leading (leadership agility). Also, how it will be imperative to embrace the global paradigm shift in the delivery model for legal services (e.g. pragmatic solutions versus billable hours, commoditizing of legal services and redefining productivity with employees having uptimes of their choosing).

In conclusion, this was a thought-provoking week covering key issues that, as a profession, we must and will continue to discuss and address.

You may be interested to know that, committed to supporting members on the issue of sustainability, CIArb has formed a Sustainability and ADR Specialist Group to advance its vision:

“A profession that embeds an appreciation of the necessity of achieving net-zero across all of its activities, understands the deep strategic relationship between how disputes are handled and the wider imperative of emissions reduction, and takes bold and innovative steps to act as an amplifier for building a sustainable world.”

There will be many opportunities ahead to discuss this, and other related issues, at upcoming CIArb events. In particular, the Mediation Symposium which takes place between 4-6 October 2022. I can also recommend Wendy Miles QC FCIArb’s excellent Alexander Lecture 2021, delivered during COP26 last November and which is available to watch now.

Noreen Kidunduhu is a common law qualified energy lawyer based in Nairobi, Kenya. She routinely represents clients in both institutional and ad hoc arbitrations under a wide variety of arbitral rules and has also appeared in numerous court matters related to arbitrations. Noreen holds a master’s degree in International Energy Law and Policy from the University of Dundee with a core module in international energy arbitration and is co-founder of the Energy Related Arbitration Practitioners, Kenya Chapter. Since her admission to the Kenyan bar, she has been a member of the Law Society of Kenya’s Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Committee and in 2020 she led the Committee in developing the draft Law Society of Kenya Arbitration Rules, 2020.