International

Dispute resolution – global, sustainable, ethical?

London International Disputes Week returned with a bang, with over 50 events highlighting London's strength as a global legal centre. Ben Giaretta recaps the week for those who missed out.

I. Stephanie Boyce delivers her keynote speech at London International Disputes Week 2022
Photograph: Fraser Allan

London International Disputes Week (LIDW) has become a fixture of the legal calendar and a must-attend event for disputes lawyers from around the world.

This year's LIDW was the biggest and most ambitious yet, with more than 50 seminars, conferences and events, interspersed by keynote speeches by luminaries such as the president of the UK Supreme Court, the master of the rolls and the president of the Law Society of England and Wales.

“London is a highly respected global centre, with world-class arbitrators, legal advisers and arbitration organisations whose awards are enforced effectively around the world,” stated I. Stephanie Boyce in her address.

“London is often chosen as the seat of arbitration for disputes between parties of different nationalities because it is perceived as a neutral and unbiased forum for these disputes to be heard.”

Speakers highlighted London's unique strengths and capabilities as a seat for dispute resolution – from the flexibility of English law to the high standard of judges, and outstanding lawyers and expert witnesses available for all types of disputes.

This year’s event was centred around three themes: “Dispute resolution – global, sustainable, ethical?”

Global

A series of seminars at law firm offices across London on Monday 9 May “followed the sun” from east to west.

The earliest sessions of the day focused on countries in Asia, especially China and India.

By the middle of the day, the sessions were about the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, Europe and Africa.

The close of the day saw discussions about North and South America.

Each seminar was in-person and online so that audience and speakers could join both in London and from each of the regions, making the events truly international.

Sustainable

The second theme kicked off the next day, which was also the opening of the main LIDW conference.

Representatives of the Campaign for Greener Arbitrations, Greener Litigation and the World Mediators Alliance on Climate Change gave a joint keynote address.

The audience was challenged to consider whether their practices were actually helping to save the planet or destroy it, and whether they could take steps towards a carbon-neutral dispute resolution system.

Ethical

Delegates explored mental health issues that afflict legal services professionals; assessed environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) initiatives and business ethics; and discussed how to equip and support disputes lawyers of the future. 

Speaking on digital justice in a keynote address, Sir Geoffrey Vos, master of the rolls, brought together all three themes and observed “the blockchain is borderless and global, making no distinction between nodes in different national locations".

"Digital payment mechanisms are likewise borderless even if they may be regulated or backed by assets in national states.”

“Dispute resolution will not be sustainable if it adheres to its analogue roots and shuns the digital environment. It will lose the confidence of the new generations of bankers, financial services providers, underwriters and even lawyers."

"It will also lose the confidence of consumers and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), who will themselves demand affordable and proportionate methods of dispute resolution online or on-chain as these technologies are used in all other sectors.”

“The ethics of dispute resolution surely require that it is accessible to all and that it is not excessively or disproportionately costly or time-consuming for anyone to vindicate their legal rights.”

The final two days saw more sessions hosted by law firms and other organisations. These covered a variety of topics including banking, life sciences, construction, insurance, offshore trusts, art, sport, insolvency, international fraud, energy, maritime and crypto-assets.

About London International Disputes Week

LIDW 2022 ran from Monday 9 to Friday 13 May.

LIDW is a unique collaboration of hundreds of lawyers and other legal services professionals celebrating the strengths of the London legal community and dispute resolution throughout the world.

It's a member organisation that brings together law firms, barristers' chambers, expert witness organisations, litigation funders, arbitration institutions and many more.

It will return next year with LIDW 2023.

Maximise your Law Society membership with My LS