Annual ICCA President’s Report to the ICCA Membership

From ICCA President Albert Jan van den Berg, 31 March 2016


As I conclude my two-year term as ICCA President, and a rather longer period as a member of ICCA’s Governing Board, it gives me great pleasure to reflect on what ICCA members, Young ICCA, the Governing Board and the Bureau have achieved over the past 12 months.


Many of you will know that in January 2016 ICCA membership grew beyond 1000 for the first time. If you are a new member, welcome. If you have been with us for some time, thank you for your continued interest in ICCA and participation in its activities.


The big event on ICCA’s calendar is of course the Congress, which we will take to Africa for the first time. ICCA Mauritius 2016, with its theme of “International Arbitration and the Rule of Law: Contribution and Conformity” promises to be a great opportunity for connecting and learning from one another and we hope that many of you will join us from 8 – 11 May 2016. We know that many of you have attended our pre-Congress Roadshows, held in Cairo, Johannesburg, Nairobi, Douala, Lagos, Port Louis, New Delhi, Paris, New York and London.


Of course, by the time of the Congress ICCA will have a new President, Donald Donovan.  Elected last year, Donald is already up to speed and working with the Governing Board, the Executive Body and the Bureau to develop ICCA’s work further. At the end of a mandatory two-year term, Mohamed Abdul Raouf concluded his work as Vice-President of the Governing Board and I would like to take this opportunity to thank him for all of his unstinting support and ongoing contribution to ICCA. We are fortunate to have as his replacement Meg Kinnear, Secretary-General of ICSID. ICCA welcomes her to the role of Vice-President and I know that Donald looks forward to working with her, along with Vice-President Adriana Braghetta and Treasurer Guillermo Aguilar-Alvarez as they steer ICCA together as its Executive Body over the next two years.


Looking back over the past year, there is much of which we can be proud. While 2015 was not a Congress year (ICCA Congresses are held bi-annually), we co-hosted the one-day HK Summit together with the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre in May. Very well attended, the Summit examined the theme “Bridging Cultures: Connecting Futures”. The Summit organisers – including ICCA Governing Board members Teresa Cheng and Neil Kaplan – devised an inspiring and varied programme that included debates about the effect of the New York Convention, corruption, and South-South trade. Young ICCA contributed its highly entertaining Soapbox debate on transparency issues.


The past year has seen continuing contributions from ICCA’s three main academic publications, which, next to the ICCA Congresses, are central to ICCA’s purposes of promoting knowledge and use of arbitration and other forms of international dispute resolution.  Volume XL (2015) of the Yearbook Commercial Arbitration was published in 2015, including as always updates on key developments in international arbitration from the previous year, institutional and ad hoc arbitral awards and court decisions on arbitration. As of 2016, the Yearbook’s format has changed to provide a steady flow of new court decisions, with five yearly uploads to the Kluwer database.


ICCA’s International Handbook on Commercial Arbitration published five Supplements in 2015, including updates to entries on:  Argentina, Ecuador, England & Wales,  India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Nigeria, Norway, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, Sri Lanka and Switzerland.


ICCA Congress Series No. 18, the collected papers of ICCA Congress XXII held in Miami in 2014 under the theme “Legitimacy: Myths, Realities, Challenges”, was published in April 2015.


An area of growth for ICCA since being opened to general membership in 2012 has been the work of its project groups.


In 2015 the Judiciary Committee organized New York Convention Roadshows (colloquia for judges) in Hong Kong, Cyprus and Mexico. The publication for which it is responsible - ICCA’s Guide to the Interpretation of the 1958 New York Convention - is now available on ICCA’s website in Arabic, Burmese, Chinese, English, Farsi, French, Georgian, Greek, Indonesian, Italian, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish, Turkish and Vietnamese. Croatian, German, Hebrew, Serbian and Ukrainian translations are underway.


ICCA’s joint Task Force with the American Society of International Law will publish the results of its investigation into the topic of issue conflicts in investor-State arbitration as the third volume of the ICCA Reports Series in time for ICCA Mauritius 2016, where hard copies will be distributed to delegates. The Report will be made available online to ICCA members at the same time.


The joint Task Force with Queen Mary, University of London’s Centre on Regulation, Ethics and Rule of Law continued its work on third-party funding, including a meeting of the Task Force in December 2015 in London and a presentation of a draft chapter of its forthcoming report at a public event in New York in February 2016. The Task Force’s report, the fourth volume of the ICCA Reports Series, will be published later this year.


The ICCA Drafting Sourcebook for Logistical Matters in Procedural Orders (ICCA Reports No. 2), a collection of boilerplate drafting, continues to be translated. A French translation was launched at the Douala pre-Congress Roadshow, while Greek and Portuguese translations are underway.


ICCA was also pleased in December 2015 to launch with Tsinghua University the ICCA-Tsinghua University Working Group on Chinese Arbitration Practice. The Working Group held its first meeting on 2 December 2015. It hopes to build on productive meetings held between ICCA, Tsinghua University and the People’s Republic of China Ministry of Commerce (“MOFCOM”) regarding Chinese arbitral law and practice, and on judicial colloquia held by ICCA with members of the Supreme People’s Court on the application of the New York Convention in China.


At the end of 2015, ICCA distributed more than 950 copies of the 2015 edition of its hard copy Membership Directory, which includes contact details for all ICCA members and a listing of arbitral institutes worldwide.


The ICCA Bureau continues to produce the hard-copy Newsletter three times a year. The Newsletter provides members with information about ICCA’s recent activities and other developments in the field of arbitration. Contributions are always welcome, and I encourage you to contact the Bureau if you wish to contribute an article or submit details of your recent publications (email to bureau@arbitration-icca.org). The e-news, which comes out once a month, is an email update for members.


The scope of Young ICCA’s activities has increased dramatically over the past few years.  In 2015 Young ICCA held a record number of workshops and events – over 20 – in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.  This year Young ICCA is making a conscious effort to take its workshops to diverse jurisdictions and audiences, including, among others, Uganda, Tanzania, Tehran and Angola.  Following the success of the LLM scholarship with the University of Miami, Young ICCA has welcomed the launch of two additional scholarship programs: with MIDS in Geneva and with Tsinghua Law School in Beijing.

 
Young ICCA’s mentoring  programme continues to be a significant draw for young lawyers in the international arbitration community and will welcome  a new cycle of mentees in 2017.   The Young ICCA Guide on Arbitral Secretaries, which was the first of the ICCA Reports, is now available in English, Polish, Portuguese and Spanish. As a testament to Young ICCA's vitality and success, its membership has grown to over 2,500, and I have every reason to believe that Young ICCA will continue to grow and prosper in the future.


I conclude by saying that it has been an honour to serve as ICCA’s President these past two years, after ICCA has been part of my life for such a long time. I wish the organization well, and I know that I am leaving it in safe hands. To ICCA’s members, I wish you a long and fruitful association with ICCA, and look forward to speaking with as many of you as I can at the Mauritius Congress and long thereafter.

Albert Jan van den Berg
ICCA President