Young ICCA Skills Training Workshop: Cross-examination in International Arbitration
Post Event Report
BY DIMITRA A. TSAKIRI (KNOETZL, VIENNA)
On 29 June 2018, Young ICCA organized for the very first time in Athens, Greece a Skills Training Workshop on cross-examination in international arbitration. The workshop was sponsored by Dryllerakis & Associates, Rokas International Law Firm, KLC and White & Case and was kindly hosted by the EODID Athens Mediation & Arbitration Organization. It was organized by a Steering Committee composed of Ms. Efi Christofilou, Ms. Kleopatra Koutouzi and Ms. Alina Papanastasiou, kindly guided by Young ICCA Co-Chair Mr. Tolu Obamuroh (White & Case, Paris) and Young ICCA Events Coordinator Mr. Panagiotis Chalkias (Hanotiau & van den Berg, Brussels). Approximately 40 young international arbitration practitioners and students attended the workshop and grasped the opportunity to learn more about cross-examination in international arbitration, as well as to put their oral advocacy skills in practice.
After a warm welcome speech delivered by the host and CEO of the EODID Athens Mediation & Arbitration Organization, Mr. Antonios Karatzas, Mr. Panagiotis Chalkias from the Steering Committee welcomed the participants and gave a brief overview of ICCA and Young ICCA and their main activities.
The introduction was followed by a keynote address delivered by Professor Haris (Ch.) Pamboukis (PMN law firm in Athens, Professor at the Athens Law School and Former Minister of State). Prof. Pamboukis mentioned that cross-examination can be seen from different perspectives depending on the role of the person involved i.e. witness, arbitrator or counsel. He highlighted the existence of different styles and techniques of cross-examination depending on the respective legal culture and explained that cross-examination aims -among others- at revealing the inconsistencies and destroying the position and/or the credibility of the other side. He shared two practical examples of cross-examination from his longstanding experience and underlined that preparation and practice are the two keys to a successful cross-examination.
Following this, six experienced arbitration practitioners were divided into three pairs and each pair shared in a vivid and humorous way, their views and experiences regarding specific aspects of cross-examination in international arbitration. The first pair composed of Mr. Simon Elliot (Three Crowns LLP, Paris) and Ms. Catherine-Anne Kunz (LALIVE, Geneva), addressed the issues of whether one should cross-examine a witness or not, what factors should be taken into account and how to prepare for cross-examination. The speakers also identified the different kinds of questions a counsel should ask during direct, cross, and re-direct examination of the witness. The second pair, composed of Ms. Yasemin Çetinel (Çetinel Law Firm, Istanbul) and Ms. Marily Paralika (White & Case, Paris), shared inside tips about how to better prepare a witness for cross-examination by taking into account also some ethical considerations. They further discussed the significant role of junior lawyers in preparing for, and during the examination of witnesses. The morning session concluded with the presentations of Mr. Felipe Aragón Barrero (Armesto & Asociados, Madrid) and Dr. Sotiris Dempegiotis (Dryllerakis & Associates, Athens), who addressed issues of counsel’s conduct of cross-examination vis-à-vis the arbitral tribunal, the appropriate scope of cross-examination, the basics of witness conferencing (“hot-tubbing”) and the role of tribunal secretaries in preparing for, and during the examination of witnesses.
After the morning session, the participants had the opportunity to put their knowledge into practice and hone their cross-examination skills. The participants were divided into claimant’s, respondent’s and arbitral tribunal’s teams and started getting prepared, with the assistance of their respective tutors, for the afternoon mock hearing sessions. These sessions involved the examination of two factual witnesses in a mock case concerning a sale and purchase agreement, the role of which was played by Ms. Nefeli Lamprou, (Clyde & Co, London), Mr. Akshay Shreedhar (Lévy Kaufmann-Kohler, Geneva), Mr. Juan Pablo Valdivia Pizarro (Nauta Dutilh, Rotterdam) and Mr. Antonios Vassiloconstandakis (OPAP, Athens). During these sessions the participants had the opportunity to conduct direct, cross- and re-direct examination, as well as to play the role of the arbitral tribunal. At the end of each session, the participants received feedback from their respective tutors on their performance and further tips as to how the hearing sessions would have been held in real life.
After the afternoon mock hearing sessions, Mr. Epaminontas Triantafilou (Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan LLP, London) closed the event with some practice-oriented remarks on the highly interesting topic: “Liar’s poker and the art of cross-examination”. Further, he discussed the roots of cross-examination and touched upon the vulnerability of human memory. He also shared some real-life examples of witness examination which involved contradictions between oral and written statements, admissions of illegal conduct, overlooked evidence and disqualification of legal experts. Finally, he advised the audience to take risks during cross-examination, but nevertheless stay observant.
The end of this successful workshop was celebrated with a cocktail reception which was held at a seaside venue, during which the participants and the faculty members had the chance to interact with each other and enjoy the golden-purple sunset sky.
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