28 May 2019
On 2 May 2019, East Asia Branch in Hong Kong had the honour of hearing from Thomas D. Halket, President of CIArb on his theme for his year in office - "Meeting Today’s Challenges to Prepare for the Future", at The Hong Kong Club.
To demonstrate the mixed reputation and other challenges that arbitration has today, Tom started with an apocryphal tale, the moral of which being that parties often get a decision that neither likes. He highlighted concerns that have been raised by complaints in the United States about consumer arbitration, recent cases where investor state arbitrations have been found to be incompatible with EU law and where arbitrator immunity has been in jeopardy. In his view, the task is to ensure customer - that is party - confidence, good practices and a diverse offering to prepare the profession for the future.
Tom then focused on several areas of concern, namely diversity, transparency, professional education and the use of technology, and how the Institute was working to meet them. For example, he observed that generally speaking a diverse profession is a stronger profession and that, in any event, to serve worldwide parties the profession must be equally diverse. But there are challenges to diversity too, including jurisdictional barriers and party control over the selection of the tribunal. He was, however, happy to observe that the Institute, already with a diverse group of members spanning the globe, had plans to increase its geographic reach with the branches in Brazil, Sri Lanka and Oman. Likewise, he reported on how the CIArb was meeting the issues of transparency and education through its credentialing for the former and, for the latter, its pathways and extended courses on international arbitration in New York, Oxford and the Asia Pacific region.
The last challenge he discussed was the impact of various new technology on ADR, including artificial intelligence (and the burning question whether this will replace arbitrators), social media, cybersecurity, blockchain agreements and big data. Again, he described the many ways the Institute is working to deal with the effect technology is having on the profession, including conferences it has held, its protocols and several projects currently underway or planned.
Overall and in conclusion, Tom recognised the many and varied challenges which we in the ADR profession must today confront and was able to report that the Institute was working to ensure its members were prepared to meet them for the future. His speech was well-received and attended by approximately 40 members.
Photos from the event are available here.
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