30 Apr 2018
Following its AGM at the Oxford and Cambridge Club on 26 April 2018, to which the London Branch was delighted to welcome its Patron, Dame Elizabeth Gloster and members of the Branch; the London Branch was honoured to be addressed by one of the doyens of international arbitration, John Tackaberry QC (39 Essex Chambers, London Branch Committee).
Speaking in favour of greater transparency in international arbitration, John began by providing an historical overview, noting that as long ago as the 1970s, there were calls from some quarters and in some jurisdictions for greater transparency in respect of arbitration. Highlighting a number of high profile cases that led to greater public scrutiny of arbitration, particularly in the investor-state arena, John observed that the public perception of arbitration was increasingly unsympathetic. In response John expressed the view that more transparency and less confidentiality were needed in respect of all forms of arbitration, not just the investor-state arena.
The issue of confidentiality in arbitration has been the subject of significant debate in recent years. John provided an overview of the positions expressed by Sir Bernard Rix, Lord Thomas, Sir Bernard Eder and more recently, Constantine Partasides QC and Simon Maynard, before concluding by embracing the proposal that the Arbitration Act 1996 should be amended to expressly reverse the assumption of confidentiality and going further, suggested that all court proceedings arising out of or in connection with arbitration should take place in public, subject the exercise of judicial discretion.
In the same vein, John expressed the view that awards should be in the public domain, save for rare cases where confidentiality was absolutely necessary e.g. in cases involving trade secrets. Expressing the view that there was sense in leaving section 69 in its present form, John observed that consideration should be given to bringing sections 85, 86 and 87 into effect, whether in their present form or in a modified form, following Brexit.
A copy of the Keynote Address will be available on the London Branch’s website in due course.
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