From Thursday, 27 June 2019 to Saturday, 29 June 2019, AIJA (International Association of Young Lawyers), with the support of ArbitralWomen, ASA/ASA Below 40 and SCAI, organised a 2-day Conference in Zurich (kicked off by welcome drinks and dinner on Thursday evening) on the topic: “Towards Greater Efficiency in International Arbitration.” The event took place at the prestigious Belvoir Park conferences facilities, with dinner at Hotel Atlantis by Giardino and a night out in Zurich city centre. The event was very well attended, gathering more than a hundred attendees, almost half of them female arbitration practitioners.
After a Welcome Address by Paola Fudakowska, AIJA’s First Vice-President, a keynote speech was given by Urs Weber-Stecher, President of the Swiss Commission of Arbitration (National Committee) of ICC Switzerland and member of the SCAI Arbitration Court, who highlighted various features of arbitration whose efficiency could be improved. He particularly emphasised the importance of arbitrators taking a strong lead during the proceedings to enhance efficiency in International Arbitration. He also predicted an increase in mediation procedures, in particular in form of Arb- Med-Arb proceedings, in the future.
During the remainder of the conference, various panels and workshops addressed subtopics related to efficiency in International Arbitration. No less than seven ArbitralWomen members were part of the event's faculty, whether as speakers or moderators: the first panel, addressing the topic “Has Arbitration Become Too Expensive?,” was led by Nadia Smahi (Bär & Karrer AG, Geneva, co-organisator of the event), the third panel “Brave New World – Or HowTechnology Can Be Used To Improve Efficiency” featured Francesca Salerno (Legance Avvocati Associati, Rome) as a speaker, the workshop on “Efficiency – Chloé Terrapon (Walder Wyss, Zurich, co-organisator of the event), the workshop on “Efficiency – The Counsel's Perspective” featured Melissa Magliana (Lalive, Zurich) as speaker and the workshop on “Efficiency – The Institution's and the Arbitrator's Perspective”, led by Simone Hofbauer (Barandun AG, Zurich, co-organisator of the event), featured Heidi Merikalla-Teir (Merilampi Attorneys, Helsinki) and Pascale Gola (Ruoss Voegele, Zurich, co organisator of the event) as speakers. All panels and workshops provided insightful, creative and well thought of ideas on how to spot arbitration's weaknesses and improve them. A very active crowd of attendees provided interesting insights and war stories on the various topics addressed.
Overall, the event was a great success in terms of gender diversity, both in light of female attendees and speakers. It also followed a Young ArbitralWomen Practitioners event organised in the framework of the Conference on Thursday, 27 July 2019 on the topic “Managing Parenthood in the context of International Practice.” Despite the heat wave that hit Zurich during those days, the event showed that efficiency in International Arbitration remains a very cool topic.
This report was written by Nadia Smahi, Bär & Karrer (Geneva), Communication Officer of the AIJA International Arbitration Comission, and originally published in Arbitral Women's Newsletter (Issue 35).