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An overview of the 5th Asia Pacific ADR Conference, 12-13 October 2016, Seoul

Celebrating the 50th anniversary of UNCITRAL, the two-day 5th Asia Pacific ADR Conference , held under the presidency of Joao Ribeiro (Head, UNCITRAL Regional Center for Asia and the Pacific), raised a number of emerging topics and practical concerns in the modern practice of international arbitration.


Following presentations of innovative solutions proposed by various arbitral institutions, including the ICC, HKIAC, KCAB or DIAC both in their rules and in recent reforms, the debate moved to the question of language in the conduct of arbitration. After specific issues for China, Japan and Korea, where English is used the majority of the time and often generates substantial misunderstandings as well as the need for specific orders from the arbitral panels, Benoit Le Bars addressed “war stories” about arbitration in Africa where circumstances such as a non-fluent arbitrator, interpretations of legal terms and legal education, can impact the conduct of arbitration. David Arias also illustrated similar topics and the need for the arbitral tribunal to conduct proceedings that are adapted to Spain and Spanish speaking countries.


Expert examination and use was also examined in detail under the moderation of Toby Landau QC, before moving to new era arbitration considerations on the second day. Sessions touched on specific investment arbitration problems regarding involvement of non disputing parties and the modern changing landscape of international treaties. The last session addressed, under the moderation of Pr. Joongi Kim (Yonsei University), IP arbitration challenges and arbitration for disputes arising from financial transactions and derivatives. He specifically focused on the impact of the dynamic Hong Kong and Singapore economies in the financial and IP sectors and how that is influencing related arbitration.


Overall, it is fair to say that the more than 200 attendees actively participating in debates with panels over the course of the two-day conference, was strong evidence that there is a significant trend coming from Asia in the area of international arbitration. No doubt the number of practitioners will influence the way arbitration will evolve in the coming years and may also shift its center of gravity.