New York Convention Roadshow in Suva, Fiji
Report written by Michael Hwang
On 9 February 2018, the Asian Development Bank (ADB) hosted a one-day course for some 30 senior Judges of the Fiji High Court and Court of Appeal. The course was run by ICCA Advisory Board Member Michael Hwang and Brenda Horrigan.
ADB has been promoting the adoption of international arbitration in the South Pacific as, until recently, only two territories had acceded to the New York Convention (“NYC”) viz the Marshall Islands and the Cook Islands. ADB has persuaded Fiji, as one of the most important territories in the South Pacific, to embrace international arbitration, and accordingly, Fiji passed the International Arbitration Act in the second half of 2017 which is closely based on the Model Law. Fiji has also acceded to the NYC. It only awaits the enactment of subsidiary legislation concerning the procedures for enforcing international arbitration awards in Fiji and the manner of hearing arbitration cases in the High Court before the Act will be brought into force later this year.
As part of the preparation for the new legislation, Mr Hwang and Ms Horrigan prepared a one-day course on international arbitration and the NYC for the senior Judges. The teaching team made use of ICCA materials for the presentation on the NYC and copies of ICCA's Guide to the NYC were distributed during the course.
The morning session was led by Mr Hwang who gave an introduction to general principles of international arbitration with numerous references to case law (mainly Singaporean since they dealt with equivalent provisions of the Model Law). The afternoon session was led by Ms Horrigan who used ICCA's materials to take the Judges through an article-by-article explanation of the NYC.
The Judges were keen and receptive and the sessions were interactive, resulting in many relevant and pointed questions being asked by individual Judges. After the training course, the Chief Justice of Fiji, who personally attended most of the course, sent a letter of thanks.
ADB is hopeful that other territories in the South Pacific will follow the Fijian example and that further training courses, where ICCA could play a useful part in judicial training, might be in store.