9 June 2017
YSIAC Conference 2017

The YSIAC Conference 2017, held in Singapore on 9 June 2017, attracted almost 200 delegates from 12 jurisdictions, with delegates attending from places as far away as Sint Maarten, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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Left to right: Davinder Singh, SC, Koh Swee Yen,
Lim Seok Hui, Gary Born and Duncan Matthews QC

Members of the audience

The theme of this year’s Conference was “Evolution and Innovation: Keeping Pace with the Future of Arbitration”, which explored the various innovations in international arbitration and how one should evaluate, approach and keep pace with these innovations.

The Conference kicked off with a Welcome Address by Mr Davinder Singh, SC (CEO, Drew & Napier LLC; Chairman, SIAC Board of Directors). In his speech, Mr Singh highlighted SIAC’s commitment towards bright, young arbitration practitioners from all around the world, who were “hungry to get their first appointments as arbitrators” and make a name for themselves in the international arbitration field. Mr Singh said he was impressed and touched by the determination, drive, energy and enthusiasm of these young arbitration practitioners, who lacked only the right opportunities, and who would be committed to devote a great deal of time and attention to the cases if they were appointed as arbitrators. Mr Singh called on the young arbitration practitioners to partner with SIAC, and stated his willingness to meet these young practitioners to understand better the challenges that they faced in succeeding in the field of international arbitration and what SIAC could do to help them achieve their goals.

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Welcome Address by Davinder Singh, SC

Keynote Address by Gary Born

The Keynote Address for the Conference was delivered by Mr Gary Born (Chair, International Arbitration Practice Group, Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP; President, SIAC Court of Arbitration). Mr Born provided two useful guiding principles for evaluating the various proposals to reform international arbitration, which he termed as the “do” and the “don’t”. In respect of the “do”, as arbitration is at the end of the day founded on parties’ consent, Mr Born said that a good innovation for arbitration should reflect parties’ consent and what parties want from arbitration. In respect of the “don’t”, Mr Born highlighted that in evaluating proposed innovations for arbitration, one should not simply attempt to emulate the national courts and the processes there. Whilst courts aim to provide a “one-size-fits-all” type of justice, arbitration is founded on parties’ consent, and provides justice tailored to the parties and to their particular dispute.

The Keynote Address was followed by lively and thought-provoking ‘’speed conferencing’’ sessions on hot topics in international arbitration. The 10 topics selected for the speed conferencing sessions showcased topical issues faced by arbitration practitioners in the course of their practice today, such as the impact of artificial intelligence on the practice of international arbitration, conflict of interest issues and confidentiality concerns in an era of greater transparency.

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Delegates during Speed Conferencing Sessions

Delegates during Speed Conferencing Sessions

The insights and conclusions drawn from the speed conferencing sessions were then summarised and presented by the moderators in two plenary sessions chaired by Mr Duncan Matthews QC (Barrister and Arbitrator, 20 Essex Street Chambers).

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Duncan Matthews QC

Left to Right: Rishab Gupta, Duncan Matthews QC and Suegene Ang

Turning the spotlight to the in-house counsel user, the final panel was a GC Panel titled “The General Counsel’s Perspective on the Future of International Arbitration”. The Panel comprised a stellar line-up of GCs, namely Mr Bhaskar Chandran (Group President, Legal, GMR Group), Mr Cameron Ford (Corporate Counsel, Rio Tinto), Ms Geraldine Lim (Regional Legal Director, Heineken Asia Pacific), and Ms Valerie Tan (Country Head Legal, ABN AMRO Bank N.V., Singapore Branch), and was moderated with great aplomb by Mr Chelva Rajah, SC (Managing Partner, Tan Rajah & Cheah; Member, SIAC Board of Directors). This interactive session provided delegates with an opportunity to engage in an interesting dialogue with the end users of arbitration on how they perceived and utilised the arbitration mechanism to meet their corporate goals, and how arbitration could be reformed to better serve the needs of corporate organisations.

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Left to Right: Bhaskar Chandran, Geraldine Lim,
Chelva Rajah, SC, Valerie Tan and Cameron Ford

Left to Right: Bhaskar Chandran, Cameron Ford,
Chelva Rajah, SC, Geraldine Lim and Valerie Tan

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Member of the audience during Q&A

Members of the audience

The highlight of the Conference was the feisty debate that followed, on the motion “This House Believes that Arbitrators become Better with Age”. Moderated by Mr Darius J. Khambata, SC (Member, SIAC Court of Arbitration), the speakers for the motion were Ms Foo Yuet Min (Director, Drew & Napier LLC; Member, YSIAC Committee) and Mr Toby Landau QC (Barrister and Arbitrator, Essex Court Chambers; Member, SIAC Court of Arbitration) and the speakers against the motion were Mr Emmanuel Gaillard (Head, International Arbitration Practice, Shearman & Sterling LLP; Member, SIAC Court of Arbitration) and Mr Jern-Fei Ng (Barrister, Essex Court Chambers; Member, YSIAC Committee).

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Left to Right: Foo Yuet Min, Toby Landau QC, Darius J. Khambata, SC, Emmanuel Gaillard and Jern-Fei Ng

Members of the audience voting during the debate

Ms Lim Seok Hui, CEO of SIAC, closed the Conference by thanking the speakers and sponsors, for contributing to the success of this flagship biennial YSIAC event. The day ended with Friday evening networking drinks for the delegates.

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Closing Remarks by Lim Seok Hui

Left to Right: Emmanuel Gaillard, Toby Landau QC, Foo Yuet Min,
Lim Seok Hui, Darius J. Khambata, SC, and Jern-Fei Ng

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Delegates during the Cocktail Evening

Delegates during the Cocktail Evening

Please look out in the upcoming July 2017 issue of the YSIAC Newsletter for more write-ups of the YSIAC Conference sessions.

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