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CEO update | October 2018

Dear colleagues,

I felt very privileged last week to be a participant in three very high-quality professional learning events.

In Melbourne on Tuesday 15 October, after opening the Resolution Institute offering for Arbitration Week, I was pleased to be able to enjoy and learn from an interesting discussion about Offshore energy arbitration: lessons learnt. Thanks to the generosity of HFW Australia, the event was held in the HFW offices in a room with expansive views across Melbourne. Chief organiser, Resolution Institute member and HFW partner, Nick Longley, had assembled a panel of three highly experienced arbitrators, Nicholas Pane QC, Bronwyn Lincoln (Corrs, Chambers, Westgarth) and Matthew Blycha (HFW Australia), to discuss a range of important issues in arbitration of off-shore energy disputes. While the particularly contentious nature of offshore energy disputes brings these issues into sharp focus, I noticed that the issues are pertinent for a wide range of arbitrations. The speakers canvassed the challenges of developing a bespoke arbitration process with parties from a range of jurisdictions over a long period of time, maintaining flexibility to respond appropriately to changing parties and circumstances, ensuring confidentiality, identifying an appropriately qualified and experienced arbitrator from a relatively small pool, choosing appropriate experts and working with in-house counsel effectively. Resolution Institute extends its thanks to Nick, Nicholas, Bronwyn and Matt for putting time aside to prepare the panel session and then to hold such an engaging conversation.

On the evening of the 15th, I was unexpectedly able to attend the Clayton Utz and University of Sydney International Arbitration lecture on The Need for Speed – Is International Arbitration Becoming Overly Fixated with Efficiency? by Robin Oldenstam, head of Mannheimer Swartling’s International Arbitration Practice and also the current Swedish member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration. This thought-provoking presentation was a timely reminder of the importance of balancing a drive towards greater efficiency with the maintenance of robust procedure. Efficiency that leads to an erosion of procedural generosity risks an increased dissatisfaction by parties (particularly the losing party) and an increased chance of appeal of the Award. While appeals have not frequently been successful, the time and costs of defending an Award can be considerable and the risk of an Award being upheld may increase in a jurisdiction that is not overly arbitration-friendly.

From Melbourne, I flew to Wellington in time for the Resolution Institute conference Spotlight on Practice. After the Mihi Whakatau (opening by Maori representatives), delegates found themselves moving between three short and sharp table-based discussions on topical DR issues. This high active engagement continued throughout the conference. Delegates who had anticipated that they would sit back and just listen, may have been surprised by the format of extended interactive workshop sessions that encouraged participant input, discussion and sharing of insights and ideas. My impression was that, if there was surprise, it was welcome. The conference buzzed! Lots of delegates commented to me about how much they were enjoying and learning in the sessions, encapsulated well in this feedback: The change in format was inspired and really worked well. I think I got more personally out of the conference than I have in any other RI event …

Of course, it was not just the format. It was also the content. Presentations were consistently thoughtful, well-structured and stimulating. Topics included culturally appropriate practice, neuroscience, micro-skills, appropriate responses when things go badly, risk management and business development. Congratulations and thanks to all the presenters and to the Wellington based staff team, particularly Catherine Cooper, General Manager (NZ) and Laura Collins (Training and Membership Services).

What a banquet of learning I enjoyed last week. And how privileged I consider myself to be to have a year-long program of quality continuing professional development events. Thank you to all the Chapter Committee volunteers who organise the CPD events. Thank you, too, to the presenters at Chapter events, masterclasses and in webinars. And thank you in advance to those members who will be part of the local 2019 Professional Development Groups (replacing Chapters) and the AUS/NZ Professional Development Network. Your contribution to the learning of Resolution Institute dispute resolution professionals and other DR colleagues, is also a contribution to the delivery of quality dispute resolution services within the community.

Cheers,

Fiona

25 October 2018