Not quite the female version of Phileas Fogg, and my journey did take rather much more than eighty days, but it was a journey that started in London, although not at the Reform Club, and it took me to Dublin via Oxford and Hong Kong and all with the purpose of developing my skills in alternative dispute resolution.
With the introduction of statutory adjudication for construction in 1998 domestic arbitration had long been on the wane and, coupled with the my design and development of a hotel in Sri Lanka with all its associated distractions including the odd adjudication, an invariably inebriated contractor, the odd death threat (from the same contractor), I had never quite managed to sign up for the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration which was the logical next step if I wished to pursue my interest in ADR.
But all these diversions only fuelled my enthusiasm.
Oxford - CIArb Diploma in International Commercial Arbitration.
So having at long last signed up for the Diploma I set off to Oxford in September 2014.
Day one of the Diploma and my heart sunk on entering the lecture hall. Each delegate was allocated three dedicated desk spaces to enable the extensive range of rainbow coloured ‘reading material’ allocated for the course, which had on closer examination an exceptionally small font, to be referred to simultaneously if necessary. Yes, it was going to be an intensive course.
The Oxford Diploma is the flagship course of CIArb and this accredited, internationally-recognised, intensive nine day course training programme is designed to provide a thorough understanding of the practice and procedure of international commercial arbitration.
The course is led by Prof. Phillip Capper and he was joined by other tutors such as Prof Doug Jones, and Dr Nael Bunni.
The course attracts a worldwide selection of students from such countries as Nigeria, Saudi Arabia, The Lebanon, New Zealand, Holland, Sweden and India.
The melting pot of students did make for some interesting debates.
So after nine solid days in Oxford living and breathing ICC, UNICTRAL, The New York Convention with twenty five other delegates from every Phileas Fogg corner of the world. I emerged blinking into the sunlight of the Oxford spires speaking a new language littered with the various acronyms.
Hong Kong – Twelfth Annual C.Vis (East) International Commercial Arbitration Moot 15th.March to 22nd March 2015 Hong Kong
March 2015 and I found myself in Hong Kong as a guest arbitrator for the Vis East Moot.
The goals of both the Vis East Moot and the original Vis Moot in Vienna are the promotion and study of international commercial arbitration and the training of tomorrow’s legal leaders in methods of alternate dispute resolution.
There are two phases to the moot: prior to the moot the students research and write their memoranda for both claimant and respondent and these are judged by a panel of international arbitrators, and then the oral arguments based upon the memoranda are heard over a series of five days in Hong Kong.
The problem always involves a different set of arbitration rules each year but always involves a contract relating the sale and purchase of goods under the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG)
The 2014/15 Problem was based on an arbitration under the 2012 ICC Rules of Arbitration including issues related to Emergency Arbitrator proceedings, which was the first in the Vis Moot history.
At the Vis East in Hong Kong, 107 teams participated and, in all, nearly 1,000 people (student participants, coaches, arbitrators, administrators and others) were involved.
The teams came from over 30 jurisdictions including for Afghanistan, Taiwan, South Korea, Brazil, Romania, Japan, Vietnam, Canada and China.
298 people from 42 countries acted as arbitrators and readers of the Memoranda.
If I said competition between the teams was fierce it is an understatement and I listened with admiration to the student advocates each determined to succeed.ing to the sale and purchase of goods under the United Nations Convention on Contracts for the International Sale of Goods (CISG). The problem involves a different set of arbitration rules each year. Both the Vienna and Hong Kong Moots use the same problem and rules and some law schools send teams to both
Dublin- DBF (Dispute Board Federation) FIDIC Total Immersion Programme (TPIF)
On to Dublin to the DBF (Dispute Board Federation) FIDIC Total Immersion Programme (TPIF) to gain an understanding of the FIDIC forms of contract.
The TPIF was led by Dr.Cyril Chern, Secretary of the Dispute Board Federation and supported Giovanni Di Folca, Leo Grutter, Brian Barr, and Ben Beaumont, all, leaders in their fields and most members of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators. Delegates had joined the course from Dubai, Chile, Rumania, Bosnia, Poland, Sweden, Jeddah and the not so exotic Liverpool.
And with only nine students continuous interaction between students and tutors enhanced the programme.
Six intense days ‘immersed’ in the programme you emerged to the ‘soft’ rain of Dublin not with an Irish lilt but another new technical vocabulary and a global understanding of the principles of FIDIC Forms, dispute boards and a fresh look how adjudication can be effective in practice.
The course for me was inspirational. I had somehow expected that it would be fairly dry as there was going to be so much ground to cover but I was pleasantly surprised.
Even terms such as ‘Force Majeure’, which lends itself to a wider interpretation under FIDIC than under the JCT (Joint Contracts Tribunal), was explained with humour, for, by day five, we were now aware that when a bunch of two metre long, hungry hogs are waiting outside a building site in eastern Europe looking mean and looking for their baby hoglet that had been ‘taken’ by the site chef for the cooking pot, this ‘event’, under the circumstances was also deemed to be a force majeure. I really can’t imagine that happening in the Cotswolds.
All the major development banks including The World Bank and the Asian Development Bank now insist on the FIDIC form of contract entitled the ‘MDB Harmonised’ Contract, the latest version of which was released in 2010 and it includes for dispute boards.
Whilst construction contracts with dispute boards may now see a reduction in the use of arbitration, as arbitration is the only effective way to appeal against a dispute board decision, there is still of course a need for arbitrators.
The FTIP programme is not a CIArb course but a percentage of the tutors were CIArb members as were my fellow students.
So exactly what point am I trying to make?
It’s not a story of ‘What Bernadette Did Next’ but an illustration that not only does the CIArb have a truly global influence it offers a strong foundation for the training of arbitrators and adjudicators on both a national and international level.
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