2017 ICCA President's Report to the ICCA Membership

From ICCA President Donald Donovan, December 2017


As I look back on my first full year as ICCA President, I am truly impressed with what ICCA Members, Young ICCA Members, the Governing Board and the ICCA Bureau have all achieved during 2016 and 2017.


I’d like to take this opportunity to thank our longstanding ICCA Members for their continued support of ICCA and their interest in our activities, and to welcome new members to the ICCA Community – we look forward to meeting you at our congresses and seminars and to working with you on ICCA projects.


In May 2016, ICCA held its 23rd Congress in Mauritius. The Congress focused on the theme “International arbitration and the rule of law: contribution and conformity” and was attended by over 800 delegates from across the globe. This was the first ICCA Congress held in Africa, and it was a great success.


The Congress marked the beginning of my Presidency and Meg Kinnear’s Vice-Presidency (replacing Mohamed Abdel Raouf at the end of his term). Since then, Adriana Braghetta has completed her term as Vice-President and Guillermo Aguilar-Alvarez completed his term as Treasurer. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank Adriana and Mohamed for their service to ICCA in these roles, and am very pleased that they will continue to contribute to ICCA’s work as Governing Board Members. We were fortunate to have Olufunke Adekoya and Michael Pryles take on the roles of Vice-President and Treasurer, respectively, from 1 April this year. It is an honor to serve on ICCA’s Executive Body alongside such remarkable individuals. We are also fortunate to count on the dynamic and motivated ICCA Bureau staff at the Peace Palace in The Hague, headed by Executive Director Lise Bosman, ensuring that our publications, projects, and communications work get done to the highest standards.


We are all, however, deeply saddened by Guillermo’s passing in July 2017 after a long illness. An extraordinary lawyer and individual, Guillermo had served on the ICCA Governing Board since 1997, and we all deeply respected his commitment to teaching and scholarship, his devotion to the mentoring of young practitioners, and his friendship for all of us.


In addition to offering attendees a vibrant program and opportunity to connect with fellow specialists, the Mauritius Congress was also the launchpad for a new ICCA Working Group on African Arbitral Practice. This Working Group aims at promoting the development of international arbitration in Africa. Second and Third “Consultative African Workshops” were held in Cairo in April 2017 and in Abuja in October 2017, and plans have been laid for a fourth such meeting in Rwanda in May 2018. We are proud to be involved in such an important initiative and look forward to working with the participants of the three Workshops that have taken place thus far to promote arbitration throughout Africa.


Another example of ICCA’s global reach is the ICCA-Tsinghua University Working Group on Chinese Arbitration Practice, which held its first meeting in 2015. Since then, the Working Group has launched its first product: the Compendium of Chinese Arbitration Laws, and co-hosted meetings, seminars, and judicial workshops in Beijing and Hong Kong. The Project will continue to work with the Ministry of Commerce of the People’s Republic of China to address current issues.


ICCA’s other projects were incredibly active and productive last year.


-    The ASIL-ICCA Task Force on Issue Conflicts in International Arbitration launched its Final Report at the ICCA Congress – a thoughtful and thorough dissection of the issues around issue conflict. We thank Co-chairs John Crook and Laurence Boisson de Chazournes for their sterling work on this project, as well as the three Rapporteurs, Christian Leathley, Ina Popova, and Ruth Teitelbaum, and the members of the Task Force who gave so generously of their time. The Report is available on the ICCA website at http://www.arbitration-icca.org/projects/Issue_Conflict.html.


-    The final version of the ICCA Drafting Sourcebook for Logistical Matters in Procedural Orders is available on the ICCA website in English and French (see http://www.arbitration-icca.org/projects/Protocols.html).  We thank Kevin Kim and Lisa Bingham and the members of the drafting committee for their meticulous work on this very practical and useful resource.


-    The ICCA-Queen Mary Task Force on Third-Party Funding held an Open Briefing and Discussion Meeting at the Mauritius Congress in May 2016, and Members of the Task Force presented a draft of the Task Force Report at the Annual ITA-ASIL Conference in Washington DC in April 2017. The full draft report has now been released for comment by ICCA members and will be made available in the delegate packs at the ICCA Sydney Congress in April 2018.


2016 saw the birth of another project: the ICCA-ASIL Task Force on Damages. Formally launched in December 2016, the Task Force seeks to address issues around the quantification of damages. The Task Force is made up of a blue-ribbon panel of leading legal and economics experts from jurisdictions around the world who have been brought together to think creatively about how to promote consistency and rigor in that field.  It is co-chaired by Catherine Amirfar and Gabrielle Nater-Bass, and a sizeable group of ICCA members has volunteered to contribute to the Task Force Advisory Panel. We look forward to presenting the work of this Task Force at the ICCA Sydney Congress in April 2018, and encourage ICCA Members with a particular interest in damages methodology to join the Advisory Panel to the Task Force.


During 2017, ICCA launched a further Working Group on Cybersecurity in International Arbitration jointly with the NYC Bar and CPR Institute, chaired by Brandon Malone, with Working Group members drawn from the ranks of ICCA, the NYC Bar and CPR. Delegates to the ICCA Congress in Sydney in April 2018 will experience a first taste of the thinking of this group as it develops.


2016 and 2017 saw the Judiciary Committee organize colloquia for judges as part of our “New York Convention Roadshow” Program in Brazil, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Egypt, Serbia, the UAE and Washington DC. This is one of ICCA’s flagship programs, and an example of our engagement with judges across the globe, with the aim of contributing to consistency and predictability in the application of the New York Convention. And ICCA’s Guide to the Interpretation of the 1958 New York Convention is available both on ICCA’s website and in hard copy in 20 languages: Arabic, Burmese, Chinese, Croatian, English, Farsi, French, Georgian, Greek, Hebrew, Indonesian, Italian, Korean, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Serbian, Spanish, Turkish, and Vietnamese.


By the end of 2017, ICCA’s editorial staff – relying on contributions from a network of some 200 contributors across the globe – had celebrated 40 years of the ICCA Yearbook, producing Volumes XLI and XLII in December 2016 and 2017, as well as 10 sizeable supplements to the ICCA Handbook (a compendium of over 75 country reports) and new translations in the ICCA Reports Series and ICCA Judges’ Guides. ICCA Congress Series No. 19 (publishing the papers from the May 2016 ICCA Congress) has been available since October 2017. All ICCA publications are produced with the assistance of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague, and are available both in hard copy and through the Kluwer Arbitration database (www.kluwerarbitration.com).


Also at the end of 2016 and 2017, ICCA distributed some 1000 copies of the 2017 edition of its hard copy Membership Directory. The directory includes the contact details for all ICCA Members as well as contact details for arbitral institutes worldwide. For the first time in 2016 the ICCA Membership Directory featured a highlights section that included a review of 2016 and preview of ICCA events in 2017 and 2018, a format that was repeated for the 2018 volume. We hope that our members and those who receive a copy of the Directory enjoyed this addition to the publication. An online Membership Directory is included on the ICCA website here.


In 2016 and 2017, the ICCA Bureau produced five hard-copy Newsletters. 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). Our regular e-news for ICCA members also comes out once a month. Let us know if you are not receiving either the hard copy newsletter or e-news (email to bureau@arbitration-icca.org) and we’ll make sure you do.


Young ICCA continues to expand its membership base and log of activities. In 2016, the Young ICCA Membership database hit over 3,000 members, expanding to over 4000 members in 2017. In 2016, 15 Skills Training Workshops were held in Africa, the Americas, Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and Australia. During 2017, Young ICCA continued to take its Workshops to diverse jurisdictions and audiences, including, among others, China, France, Italy, India, Ghana, Kosovo, Morocco, Pakistan, Russia and Singapore. A special introduction to arbitration and finance is scheduled for The Hague in January 2018.


 The Young ICCA Mentoring Program continues to expand, with the fourth cycle launched in early 2017. The Program drew enormous interest, with over 300 applications received during the 2016 application process. A new two-year cycle will be launched at the beginning of 2018 and run concurrently with the 2017 cycle, so we will be able to accommodate more Young ICCA Members in the Mentoring Programme.


I’d like to conclude by thanking each and every ICCA Member, Young ICCA Member, Governing Board Member and Advisory Board Member for their contribution to ICCA. We are committed to developing, promoting, and improving international arbitration, but we could not succeed at any of this without your continued interest and input.


I look forward to meeting with many of you at the Sydney Congress on 15-18 April 2018 (www.icca2018sydney.com) (or indeed at the follow-on event in New Zealand) and to building the future of international arbitration with you. Until then, I wish you all the best for the holiday season and the new year.