Professor Julian Lew QC delivers seasoned insight into the procedural efficiency of International Arbitration

Published by KCAB INTERNATIONAL

On 3 July 2018, in the newly launched hearing facility of the KCAB INTERNATIONAL and Seoul International Dispute Resolution Center, Professor Julian Lew QC of 20 Essex Street Chambers delivered a seasoned insight into the procedural efficiency of international arbitration. Distinguished within the field, Lew was called to the English bar in 1970, taking silk in 2003. As founder and Head of the School of International Arbitration at Queen Mary University London since 1985, whilst also heading the international arbitration practice at Herbert Smith until 2005, Lew has written extensively on the ‘contemporary’ and ‘pervasive’ problems within commercial international arbitration. (Kluwer 1987, Kluwer 2006).

Attracting a vibrant audience of over forty attendees from both legal and academic backgrounds, Professor Joongi Kim, in igniting the ‘fireside chat’, quipped that Professor Lew’s experience in the field of arbitration is vast, so much so he could do it “in his sleep”. Ms. Kyongwha Chung, an international arbitration attorney, moderated the session, providing a forum for Professor Lew to share his experience in relation to the discussion.

Highlighting the issue of submissions, Lew alluded to the ‘flag ideal’ of succinct submissions in the avoidance of verbose pleadings; the tension between the necessity to avoid prejudicing the right to be heard and the desire for efficiency, is of course ubiquitous in advocacy.

Lew posited a pragmatic answer to the supposed ‘hard-time’ that investor-State arbitration has been experiencing. In arguing that no change will arise in the characteristics that lead to such disagreements – global expansion of companies, and governments unilaterally imposing decisions upon foreign investors domestically – arbitration, by necessity, will remain the means by which these settlements are reached. The only, and unviable alternative, would be to return to “gunboat diplomacy”.

Fielding questions from the audience, of particular interest were the comparative differences between the common and civil legal system processes of document production and cross-examinations of the witness, and the respective impact upon the efficiency in arbitration. Discussions in relation to the future of international arbitration also featured, with technological advancements rekindling the dichotomy of the relative and individual nature of cases vis-à-vis intelligent systems improving the efficiency of arbitral matters in systematic ways.