The Worshipful Company of Arbitrators Arbitration Competition

As a GDL student, it is difficult sometimes to see how the theoretical law that we spend so much of time absorbing is actually used in practice. As a result, I was keen to find some experience that would enlighten me and arbitration was an aspect of the law that I was intrigued to explore. That experience was the Arbitration Competition run by the Worshipful Company of Arbitrators!

The City team: Sally Smith, Leyla Garahan and Paulo Pinheiro Machado

Our task was to evaluate a bundle and prepare to undertake an assignment within the arbitration. City was given the task of a cross-examination of an expert witness and the submission on the legal facts of the case. The case consisted of a company suing for payment of diving equipment provided and the respondent company (who we represented) counter-suing for defective products and costs for fixing that defect.

The first day of the competition kicked off with an emergency arbitration to stop calls on bonds going forward. It was a pleasure to watch the arbitration unfold, and the level of performance from the pupils and trainees involved was outstanding. It was the perfect warm-up! The next day, it fell to us to fit in amongst the ‘grown-up’ lawyers and state our case. Leyla performed beautifully with the submission on legal facts, pulling in all of her contract knowledge and BPTC advocacy training. Paulo and I then took over with a cross-examination. Luckily, we had been able to learn from previous competitors about the ritual of a cross-exam, and although the expert fought back valiantly, we had great feedback on our points made. We learnt quickly how to be politely pushy!

As the arbitration went on, it became clear that the claimants were to win the case (unfortunately), but our team pulled back some of the costs on the grounds that arbitration was not about winning, and it was imperative to uphold an amicable relationship between parties.

The whole experience was the perfect opportunity to see law in action, but of course the experience was not isolated to the arbitration. While enjoying wine and canapés, we had the opportunity to talk to the arbitrators about their world and the brilliant stories they had to share. Furthermore, we mixed with current trainees and pupils from multiple firms and chambers, soaking in their own experiences and memories of the application system that we all have to find our way through.

Overall, the weekend was tiring but fun; I came out the other side more knowledgeable and more determined than ever to pursue law. I would recommend the competition to absolutely every law student and my advice would be to soak up every minute, you never know when it may come in handy!

Our thanks go to Emily Allbon for all of her brilliant organisation, and to Dogan Gultutan for helping us so significantly with preparation, it increased our confidence exponentially. We could not have done without either of you!

Author Sally Smith

Sally completed a degree in Psychology from UCL and a masters in Human Rights from LSE before commencing the GDL at City, University of London. Prior to commencing her legal studies, she acted as President and Secretary General at Model United Nations, worked consulting at Skarbek Associates, and as an English teacher in Seville, Spain. Alongside her aspirations to become a commercial solicitor with a focus on dispute resolution, she participates in pro bono work with the Start-Ed scheme. In her spare time, Sally enjoys playing netball, reading and debating over good Spanish wine. 

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