Young ICCA Arbitration Day in Vietnam, Ho Chi Minh City, 30 September 2016

By Nhat Minh Doan*

On 30 September 2016, the first Young ICCA event in Vietnam, namely the “Young ICCA Arbitration Day in Vietnam”, was successfully held at the Novotel Saigon Centre, in Ho Chi Minh City. This event was co-hosted by Young ICCA and LNT & Partners with the support of the Vietnam International Arbitration Centre (VIAC), and was sponsored by Baker & McKenzie, YKVN and Allens.

The event, which attracted around 80 participants including private practitioners, law students, in-house counsel, and government officials.

It consisted of two sessions: the morning session was a conference on arbitration in Vietnam, whereas the afternoon session was a traditional Young ICCA Skills Training Workshop meant to provide basic skills to young practitioners and students.

The conference started with the presentation of Mr. Chau Viet Bac (VIAC, Ho Chi Minh City) on the overall evolution of arbitration laws in Vietnam and the Arbitration Rules of the VIAC. Mr. Chau Viet Bac presented impressive statistics showing that the use of arbitration in Vietnam has increased, notably thanks to the great contribution of the VIAC and of the arbitral community. Mr. Bac also highlighted certain aspects of the proposed upcoming revision of the VIAC Arbitration Rules.

The following topic of the morning session was “Arbitrating in Vietnam: potentials and pitfalls (practitioners’ perspectives)”, offering insights and sometimes amusing anecdotes of highly experienced practitioners, including Mr. Dang Xuan Hop (Allens, Hanoi), Mr. Fred Burke (Baker & McKenzie, Ho Chi Minh City), Mr. Do Khoi Nguyen (YKVN, Singapore), and Dr. Net Le (LNT & Partners, Ho Chi Minh City). This session prompted a lot of interaction between the audience and the speakers, who engaged in a lively discussion concerning, by example, the attitude of their clients towards arbitration, or the issue of advance waivers relating to arbitrators’ conflicts of interest.

Finally, Mr. Nguyen Manh Dzung (Dzungsrt & Associates, Hanoi) gave the audience a helpful overview and analysis of the enforcement of arbitral awards in Vietnam. A leader of the development of arbitration laws in Vietnam, Mr. Nguyen Manh Dzung was able to share with the audience the latest legislative improvements and certain encouraging statistics on the enforcement of arbitral awards.

Thanks to the generous support of our sponsors, speakers and participants were cordially invited to share a lunch at the venue. The lunch, as well as the coffee breaks in the morning and the afternoon sessions, gave the speakers and participants a further opportunity to debate and network in a convivial atmosphere.

The Arbitration Day continued with the afternoon session moderated by Ms. Ha Le (Allens, Hanoi). The afternoon workshop aimed at providing the participants – primarily young practitioners and students – with basic, practical skills required in arbitral proceedings. The first topic was “Analysis of the arbitration agreement”, presented by Ms. Nhu Hoang Tran Thang (LALIVE, Geneva). This was followed by Mr. Paul Tan (Rajah & Tann, Singapore)’s presentation on two other fundamental elements of an arbitration: the “Seat and language of the arbitration”.

The discussion continued with Ms. Chi Anh Tran (Baker & McKenzie, Ho Chi Minh City) presenting on the Terms of Reference and Procedural Order No. 1 on rules governing the procedure. Although they are widely used in other parts of the world, these two initial documents are rarely seen in arbitrations in Vietnam. The discussion of such procedures by Ms. Chi Anh Tran was therefore much appreciated by the audience.

The next discussion was led by Ms. Olga Boltenko (CMS Hasche Sigle, Hong Kong) and focused on emergency measures in arbitration. Her presentation based on detailed case studies triggered a lively discussion with the audience regarding the actual practice of emergency measures and in particular their enforcement.

The last topic, “Arbitrators selection, timetable and initial strategic decisions of the Parties”, was presented by Mr. Dominic Afzali (Allen & Overy, Hong Kong). His “tricks of the trade” on the best use of procedural strategy appealed to the participants as a real life report on the multidimensional aspect of an arbitration case.

The positive feedback from the participants both during the post-event cocktail party and via emails to the Steering Committee confirmed the full success of Young ICCA’s first event in Vietnam, which will hopefully be followed by many others.

*Mr. Nhat Minh Doan is a junior associate at VILAF (Hanoi). He was a member of the Steering Committee of the Young ICCA Arbitration Day in Vietnam.