By Marina Kofman (Associate at White & Case Sydney)
The AFIA Sydney Symposium on ‘Efficiency and Economy in International Arbitration: Are We Getting it Right?’ was held on 13 April 2018 at the Four Seasons in Sydney, in the lead up to the Sydney ICCA Congress. The panel discussion was chaired by James Kwan, Partner, Hogan Lovells (Hong Kong) and consisted of four eminent speakers from the region: Max Bonnell, Partner, White & Case (Sydney), Ning Fei, Hui Zhong Law Firm (Beijing), Fedelma Smith, Senior Legal Counsel, Permanent Court of Arbitration (Singapore) and Deborah Tomkinson, Secretary General, ACICA (Sydney). The symposium was co-sponsored by Hogan Lovells and White & Case.
Fedelma Smith and Deborah Tomkinson discussed the ways in which the PCA and ACICA respectively are addressing user concerns around efficiency, a key focus of which is elements within each institution’s arbitration rules. Deborah stated that ACICA has established an internal committee to review SIAC’s Cross-Institution Consolidation Protocol. Max Bonnell spoke about the need for institutions to maintain focus on consistently high service delivery including response time to requests; and about the role of parties and counsel in taking a proactive approach to procedural issues, by agreement where possible, in order to craft a process that will work efficiently for the particular circumstances their dispute. Ning Fei introduced the audience to the way that med-arb operates in the China and the high rates of settlement that are achieved as a result of this process. Typically, parties will mediate after the arbitral process has taken place, but before the arbitrator renders an award, so that they can gauge their prospects of a favourable award before deciding whether to settle.