[Recap] Maxwell Conversations: Will Asia Change International Arbitration?
Maxwell Chambers held its second session of Maxwell Conversations on 21 October 2021, discussing the topic “Will Asia Change International Arbitration?“. The webinar was attended by more than 320 participants from over 40 countries.
The panelists included Professor Julian Lew QC, Head of the School of International Arbitration of Queen Mary University of London, and Arbitrator at Twenty Essex, Sanjeev Kapoor, Vice President of ICC International Court of Arbitration, and Partner at Khaitan & Co, Kevin Nash, Deputy Registrar & Centre Director at SIAC, and Nils Eliasson, Vice-Chair of HKIAC, Chairperson of HKIAC’s Proceedings Committee, and Partner at Shearman & Sterling. The discussion was moderated by Lawrence Teh, Senior Partner and Co-Head of the International Arbitration Practice at Dentons Rodyk, who was hosting the webinar in person at Maxwell Chambers.
The key topics covered by the speakers include a discussion on the results of the Queen Mary University of London 2021 International Arbitration Survey: Adapting Arbitration to a Changing World; exploring what the results and statistics say about Asia; the projections for the future and how the shift will affect businesses or international arbitration practices.
The session started with a fireside chat between Professor Lew and Lawrence, where they discussed Asia’s historical participation in international arbitration and the rise of Asia’s economy which gave rise to greater familiarity, trust and participation by Asian businesses in international arbitration. Professor Lew shared key findings from the survey, citing diversity to be one of the most discussed issue in international arbitration in recent years – gender diversity, cultural diversity, geographic diversity and ethnic diversity.
Sanjeev next shared ICC’s latest 2020 figures where ICC arbitration filed 925 filings – the highest number of cases being administered under the ICC arbitration rules, from 145 countries and territories worldwide and of which, 25% comes from Asia Pacific. He also shared how the bargaining parity of parties in Asia has been rising over the years.
Nils shared that it was of no surprise that HKIAC emerged as the top three most preferred arbitration seat, as the foundation of arbitration in Hong Kong has been solid, with over 30 years of experience in conducting international arbitration. He added that there has been a big drive from overseas companies (including US Technology companies) to put a Hong Kong seat with HKIAC rules into their license agreements and other contracts with a China nexus, that is due to the Mainland China-Hong Kong Interim Measures Arrangement. The arrangement is a game-changer according to Nils, as companies now can get interim measures from the mainland courts with a seat in Hong Kong.
Kevin added that a big advantage for SIAC and HKIAC has also been that Singapore and Hong Kong are two of the very few jurisdictions that have provided for the enforceability of emergency arbitrators’ orders or awards for arbitrations seated in Hong Kong, Singapore, and also for foreign-seated arbitrations.
Kevin then touched on the rise in numbers of big entities putting their trust in SIAC, particularly for high-value disputes, and the rise of Asian economies and increased bargaining power of Asian users. He observed that there have been many new kinds of disputes from different sectors – fintech, cryptocurrency and renewables – emerging in arbitration. There has also been a greater level of acceptance of institutional arbitration over ad hoc arbitration, with international arbitration as the preferred mechanism for resolving cross-border disputes. In addition, with virtual or remote hearings, it makes it much easier for faraway parties to choose Asia.
The panelists concluded the session with a discussion on the progress in diversity in international arbitration, alongside an interactive Q&A session.
PROF JULIAN LEW QC
Julian is a full-time arbitrator in international commercial and investment disputes. He accepts appointments as arbitrator in international commercial and investment disputes. He has been involved with international arbitration for more than 40 years as an academic, counsel and arbitrator. Before 2005, Julian was a partner and, for some years, the head of the international arbitration practice group of Herbert Smith. He has been appointed as a sole, presiding and co-arbitrator in arbitrations under the rules of all the major arbitral institutions and under UNCITRAL and Swiss Chambers’ Arbitration Institution rules. Julian is also a Professor of International Arbitration and Head of the School of International Arbitration, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London. He has held these positions since the School’s creation in 1985.
Lawrence Teh is a Senior Partner and Co-Head of the International Arbitration Practice at Dentons Rodyk & Davidson LLP, Singapore. He advises clients in all areas of commercial law and appears regularly as lead counsel in the Singapore courts, in arbitration, mediation and other forms of dispute resolution. He has experience in handling disputes in international trade and commodities, maritime and aviation, banking and financial services, onshore and offshore construction, mergers acquisitions and joint ventures and insurance. Lawrence is particularly noted for his work on jurisdictional issues in international arbitration and litigation.
Kevin is the Deputy Registrar & Centre Director of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre. Over the course of the past decade, he has overseen the administration of thousands of international cases under all versions of the SIAC Rules and the UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules. Kevin is a member of the Singapore delegation at UNCITRAL Working Group II and represents SIAC at UNCITRAL Working Group III. He is listed as one of the leading arbitration lawyers in Southeast Asia in Who’s Who Legal 2021.
Nils Eliasson is a partner in Shearman & Sterling’s International Arbitration practice, and the Vice-Chair of HKIAC. He also serves as the Chairperson of HKIAC’s Proceedings Committee. Nils acts as counsel or arbitrator in commercial and investment treaty disputes conducted under the auspices of HKIAC, ICC, SIAC, LCIA, CIETAC, and SCC, as well as in ad hoc proceedings under the UNCITRAL arbitration rules.
Sanjeev Kapoor is a Partner in the Dispute Resolution team of Khaitan & Co. Sanjeev has a rich and diverse practice of over 24 years. Alternative dispute resolution is Sanjeev’s forte. He has represented clients before various arbitral tribunals (both institutional and ad hoc) including tribunals constituted under the aegis of ICC, LCIA, SIAC, LMAA as well as under bilateral investment treaties. He has in-depth knowledge and understanding of international arbitrations, covering a vast array of issues. He is the Vice President of ICC International Court of Arbitration.