Dinner with the Arbitrators

8 November 2013

Post Event Report

by Yulia Semakina [1]



On the 8th of November, 2013 a group of young practitioners keen on international arbitration was honoured to share a table with one of the most highly regarded individuals worldwide in arbitration (or even “the most highly regarded individual in international arbitration” for 2014, according to Who's Who Legal), Mr. Toby Landau QC.


The meeting was organized under the auspices of the Young International Council for Commercial Arbitration (Young ICCA) as the inaugural event for the series “Dinner with the Arbitrators”.


The concept of the evening consisted of pre-selected participants in a round-table style discussion on a proposed topic. Our dinner at Dishoom, Covent Garden, London, was devoted to the ethical code and guidelines in international arbitration. The event was organized in line with the world-famous Chatham House Rule that is invoked at meetings to encourage openness and the sharing of information. Even though this rule now limits me in description of the evening and, particularly, in disclosure of who said what, it gave us much more freedom in the table talk.


We touched upon such questions on ethics in international arbitration as inter alia uniform code of conduct/ethics, regulatory system(s) for control of the ethical standards in international arbitration, and role of institutions in the issue. We discussed how recent changes in the rules of all major arbitration institutions correlated to the changing reality of the arbitration world with some of the rules allowing sanctioning for improper behavior of counsel. Having elaborated further on ethical issues, we picked up some of the points from Mr Landau’s Singapore ICCA Congress 2012 speech. The question of how a lawyer should approach witness preparation or/and coaching in international arbitration from an ethical perspective became a centre point of the discussion.


The most significant part of the evening (in terms of importance for international arbitration adherents) consisted of the advice from one of the most prominent counsel and arbitrators, which we all absorbed like sponges. Mr Landau's advices ranged from the tricks used by counsel during oral hearings and written submissions to the techniques of bringing facts and arguments to life. We further discussed the issue of access to the profession and practising in the sphere of international arbitration. Since we had at the table representatives of the major law firms headquartered both in the UK and the US, members of non-governmental and non-profit organisations and even a young barrister, we all had different experience in entering the profession and presumably our views vary. It is also worth noting that our group showed a perfect selection of people not just of different academic and professional background, but people having had considerable diversity in their origin with the range of countries from Mauritius to Russia, the EU to Lebanon.


The discussion flowed also thanks to the coziness of the table (maintaining the Chatham House Rule I cannot disclose the person who called our table “extremely cozy”) and splendid food. However, main credits for that outstanding evening should go to the talented Young ICCA Events Team, who put lots of efforts, first of all, to the participants selection and, secondly, to thorough preparation of the discussion (particularly, YICCA Events Director Hussain Khan).


There is no better way to sum up the dinner experience than with the words of William Arthur Ward: “The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires!”. It was extremely important to all of us to have met such an ispirational person as Mr. Landau at the early stages of our careers. It is my hope that many of those reading this note will also be given such opportunity through the Young ICCA series “Dinner with the Arbitrators”.


[1] Yulia Semakina is a Research Associate at the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and an Academic Assistant at the London School of Economics and Political Science. She holds an LLM degree from LSE (2013) and a Master in Law from Omsk State University (2009), where she is also finishing her PhD programme. Before joining LSE, she worked for four years in an audit firm as a dispute resolution lawyer.

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