Over the weekend of Friday 16 January to Sunday 18 January 2015, a City Law School team comprising Emma Park, Douglas James and myself kick-started the term by taking part in the Worshipful Company of Arbitrators Arbitration Weekend 2015, which was held in the office of Berwin Leighton Paisner LLP just by the Thames. Competition was fierce, with teams drawn from all over the profession including University of Law, Atkin Chambers and Linklaters, just to name a few.
The Arbitration Competition was judged by an illustrious Arbitral Tribunal: Dr Robert Gaitskell QC, Carol Mulcahy from BLP, and Paul Rose from the Worshipful Company. Our team sat through the entire arbitration proceedings, and on top of the valuable experience we gained, we were rewarded with the BLP Best Law School Team Prize, and I was offered an individual internship with BLP this summer. I was further named by the Tribunal for Special Mentions together with three other participants who were trainees/pupils – we were dubbed the ‘client’s dream team’!
The case in this year’s Competition, based on a real-life ICC arbitration, was a complex contractual dispute between a vendor German company specialising in deep-sea diving equipment and a purchaser company in the fictional nation of Danubia. The purchaser refused to pay the price of the equipment supplied, alleging that the contract was varied without its express consent, and there was a counterclaim for loss caused by defect and delay in delivery.
The Competition began on Friday with a showdown between Atkin Chambers and Keating Chambers in an Emergency Arbitration before Nicholas Fletcher QC, and carried on for a further two days, with different teams participating in different stages and roles throughout. Our team represented the Respondent purchaser in an application for strike out, an examination-in-chief, the closing submissions on the law, and a final reply on costs after the Arbitral Award was delivered. After the weekend, we all acquired a firm grasp of the flexibility of the procedures, the application of the law to the facts, and the importance of persuasion and advocacy.
I would highly recommend this Competition to future students, as it is an immensely fruitful experience for any law student, giving us an insight into the practicalities of commercial law, in world increasingly resorting to alternative dispute resolution such as arbitration and mediation. Although, as Professor John Uff QC (Master of the Company) rightly remarked, it requires a lot of stamina to concentrate for over seven hours each day on every bit of evidence presented, this is the perfect training for any and every aspiring advocate.
We would like to say a special word of thanks to Emily for recommending this Competition to us and for liaising throughout – this would not have been possible without the Law School’s support! We would also like to express our gratitude to the Worshipful Company, especially the organising committee chaired by Michael Cover, for making this an outstanding experience for students and young practitioners alike.