2018 CIArb, Perth
In 2018, the Australia, East Asia and Singapore branches of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration hosted the practice and procedure component of its Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration at Perth, Western Australia. This was a first for Australia, with previous courses held in Singapore and Hong Kong. This year, the course attracted candidates from Australia, China, India, Philippines, and Singapore, among others. The attendees spanned all levels of seniority, with some having extensive experience in international commercial arbitration and others new to the discipline, including professional non-lawyers. Among them were two eminent retired Australian jurists: The Hon Robert Hulme QC of the Supreme Court of New South Wales, and The Hon John Gilmour QC of the Federal Court of Australia.
The nine days of lectures were both detailed and informative, and exhaustively covered the process of international commercial arbitration both in general, and in specific contexts, such as construction, maritime, and sports arbitration. The expert faculty, from around the world, delivered the carefully structured course content with the kind of practical insight that many decades of experience provides. There was a worthwhile balance of practitioners who focus on tribunal membership and advocate roles, and who could offer distinct perspectives on practices and developments in the hearing and determination of disputes. Given the increasing prominence of arbitral institutions in commercial arbitration, discussion panels presented by representatives of the secretariats of some of the leading bodies for the Asia Pacific region were especially valuable.
The coursework included both large group lectures and seminars, as well as small group tutorial-style sessions. The combination of teaching methods ensured that candidates were able to apply the concepts and principles discussed in the lectures in the context of hypothetical scenarios, which permitted a situation-specific interrogation of those ideas in a real-world environment, aided and guided by expert instructors. Although the focus of the course was on the UNCITRAL Model Law and its rules, much attention was paid to the nuance afforded by the different institutional rules, especially in the Asia Pacific region.
Our time in Perth was not, however, all work. The course included a number of organised social events, including regular lunches and celebratory dinners, which permitted candidates to forge professional relationships and enduring friendships with faculty and fellow attendees. In particular, the course’s final dinner, was addressed by The Hon Christian Porter MP, Attorney-General for the Commonwealth of Australia, who emphasised the Australian Government’s ongoing commitment to the arbitration profession in the country. It was a dinner well-attended by Institute members, lawyers, judges, politicians, and other professionals.
Following the time in Perth, candidates were preparing and studying to complete a written examination on practice and procedure in international commercial arbitration. A partially open-book examination, in which students were permitted to consult four volumes of rules and regulations they had used throughout the course, tested the candidates’ knowledge of practice and procedure with both essay and hypothetical questions. It was, as it ought to be, a rigorous experience.
Hosted by Caroline Kenny QC of the Victorian Bar, President of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration (Australia), and Mary Thomson of the Hong Kong Bar, Chairperson of the Chartered Institute of Arbitration (East Asia), candidates were armed with the knowledge and skills to excel as practitioners in the field of international commercial arbitration, and primed to complete the further module in award writing. The practice and procedure course is a compelling and engaging introduction to (or, for those more experienced in international commercial arbitration, enhancement of) the complex and dynamic rules and principles at play in the field.
Justin Carter, Barrister