International Arbitration Conference; Opening remarks

Introductory remarks by Pat Brady, Chair of the Irish Branch at Inaugural conference of CIArb Young Members group, at the Distillery Building, Dublin, November 11th, 2011.

Your Honour Judge Kelly, Ladies and gentlemen

It’s a very great privilege and a pleasure to welcome all our visitors to Dublin for the first ever international conference of young members of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and of course to welcome members of the Institute of all ages, and other participants in todays event.

This meeting is therefore a historic day for the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

Today also sees the inauguration ceremony for our ninth President and Head of State.

So the theme of ‘new beginnings’ might be a good one as we start out on our conference.

Of course this is a special day in the history of conflict resolution also; the eleventh day of the eleventh month commemorating the end of one of the bloodiest battles in modern history, acquiring the added poignancy this year if being 11.11.11.

But before addressing that theme this gathering of CIArb members representing as we do over 20 jurisdictions underpins some of the traditions of our Institute as a global body; a global community of practitioners of alternative dispute resolution shortly approaching its 100th birthday!

We can go further back in this City to one of the oldest arbitration bodies in the world which was formed in this city in 1705; ‘The Ouzel Galley Society’.

We are delighted to have the World President, Professor Doug Jones here as an honoured guest and participant.

Indeed Professor Jones is going to have a very busy couple of days and we look forward to drawing on his expertise and experience as we do with all our guest speakers and participants. In particular I might mention that tomorrow morning Doug will make a presentation on Mediation in Australia: What Can Ireland Learn from Australia’s Promotion of Mediation?” at the Radisson Hotel, not far from here.

The organising committee has worked hard to pull together an impressive programme and I congratulate them on the work they have done. I am confident you will see the outcome of their efforts as the day rolls on and I’m sure you will agree that it has been well rewarded

As we gather as members of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, there is a question I wish to pose. Indeed non-members of the Institute might be just as interested in the answer to the question.

What makes the CIArb different?

In some ways an event such as this helps answer the question as it illuminates one of the great strengths of the CIArb. We are a worldwide body with a presence in over 100 countries; an organisation of 12,000 members, 750 of those here in Ireland.

This is represented in one of the themes of today’s conference;  ‘International Best Practice: What can arbitral seats learn from one another?

Our standards are tested against the highest of benchmarks and the best standards of the international legal, business and dispute resolution community.

I had reason to consult the Institute core document known as ’The Guidance ‘ this week. Anyone who doubts the rigorous requirements we place on our members should have a look at its 92 pages of standards. This provides the necessary reassurance to those who rely on our services that a third party neutral appointed by us has achieved a standard of training and subscribes to a code of professional and ethical conduct in which parties can place their trust.

All of you attending today, but especially the members of the Young Members Group are showing by your presence your determination to pursue the highest standards of your profession as arbitrators, adjudicators or other third party neutrals.

So I hope that this conference is the first of the new beginnings and that another branch of the Institute will want to host number two in the series.

Another beginning for us in Ireland, and while not the subject of this conference I might digress briefly to mention that our government will next year introduce legislation to regulate the practise of mediation for the first time.

This is on foot of the report of the Law Reform Commission last year.

The Irish Branch welcomes this development but it will raise many issues not least of which will be how the standard will be set for the status of ‘Accredited Mediator’.

This is important.

In its report on mediation the Law Reform Commission stressed that it was important that the mediation option should not be seen as ‘second class justice’.

As many observers have noted mediation is part of the justice system not apart from it.

Clearly those who practise as mediators, just as with arbitrators should be expected to reach a standard such as that which this institute lays down and no less, if this public confidence is to be first attained and then retained.

All organisations involved in mediation need to remember that the primary object of the exercise is to serve the citizen in need of mediation services and we would all do well to reflect on how best we might contribute to that objective in the manner we promote our services.

Turning to other beginnings what else is new in the world of ADR?

It appears we are almost definitely going to see the introduction of a form of adjudication into the construction sector in Ireland, although what form exactly that will take remains to be seen.

Some of the existing proposals have been the subject of serious criticism by professionals in the construction professions and most recently by one of my predecessors of some years ago as Chairman of the Irish Branch and the current Chair of the Engineers Ireland dispute resolution Panel Ciaran Fahy.

In a paper delivered this week and not yet published Mr Fahy is strongly critical of the proposals in relation to costs, the ambitious nature of timeframes and other matters.

And of course this development in an industry where arbitration has traditionally been a vital tool for dispute resolution raises issues about the future of arbitration itself in that sector. Experience in the United Kingdom would indicate that such fears are not without foundation.

Do we need some new beginnings in arbitration itself that will make it more effective, more efficient and more economical? There are many existing models to look at but recessionary times have forced quite a lot of re-thinking about models that were discarded in the past. Perhaps we need to look at some of ours.

But while we can look backwards to 1705 for arbitration in Ireland it is much more important that we remain focused on the future and with colleagues from across the gamut of ADR practitioners we strongly support the campaign by Arbitration Ireland to see Dublin develop as a seat for international arbitration.

We have many attractions to potential parties.

Ireland has just last year modernised its arbitration law and has now embraced the Uncitral model, about which you will hear more detail later as one of the themes of the conference is ‘Evolving practice under the New York Convention’.  We have other advantages also as an English speaking country with an increasingly competitive cost base, good communications and travel links and common law-experienced lawyers and neutrals.

We hope that many of you will consider Ireland as a future venue for international arbitration, although of course we will be delighted to see you for any reason!

Before concluding I want to thank all of you who made this day possible; a hard working committee of the young members group under its Chairman Goncalo Malheiro from Portugal, the team in Bloomsbury Square and especially Sue McLaughlin, all of our distinguished speakers, our sponsors, Beauchamps, the CPLA, Lewis & Barnes, The Bar Council of Ireland and BLG (and later Maples and Calder.

On the Irish Branch Committee I want to thank Dermot Durack who led for the committee and the indefatigable Arran Dowling Hussey, both of whom did a prodigious amount of work.

Ladies and Gentlemen, we are very honoured to have as our first guest Mr Justice Peter Kelly.

Judge Kelly is the judge assigned under the Irish Arbitration Act 2010 and who deals with cases arising under the act.

However he is a very powerful voice for alternative dispute resolution, both by virtue of his eminent position as a member of the judiciary, but if anything even more so by virtue of the persuasive power of his advocacy of its merits and its potential contribution to better dispute resolution.

Its my pleasure to introduce Mr Justice Peter Kelly, judge of the High Court