International Arbitration Conference Highlights Industry’s Emerging Challenges

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A who’s who of international arbitrators, judges, and legal scholars explored a vast array of complex, emerging issues during the Fordham International Arbitration and Mediation Conference on October 14.

The all-day event, titled “New Developments, New Challenges, and New Ideas in International Dispute Resolution,” featured five panels, a keynote address by prominent international arbitrator Gerald Aksen, and an “ArbitralWomen Breakfast” that highlighted the consequences of and potential solutions to unconscious bias. The panels featured speakers who work in North and South America, Europe, and Asia.

Aksen, a pioneer and leader in international arbitration since 1960, described the conference’s attendance as “overwhelming,” noting the impressive turnout came as no surprise given international arbitration’s status as a “growth market.”

The top 11 global institutions handled more than 5,200 international arbitrations in 2015, based on industry figures. According to Aksen, that meant at least 10,000 parties, as many as 15,000 arbitrators, and around 10,000 participating law firms.

“You’re at the right place at the right time,” Aksen said, adding he envied the vast knowledge today’s arbitrators had at the click of a button.

Louis B. Kimmelman, partner at Sidley Austin LLP, and Edna Sussman, independent arbitrator and mediator and distinguished practitioner in residence at Fordham Law, co-chaired the conference and also moderated afternoon panels, including “Arbitration Goes Digital: The Risks and Benefits – Cyber Security, Artificial Intelligence, and Privacy.”

During “Arbitration Goes Digital” panelists addressed how technological risks made arbitrators vulnerable, which parties would be responsible for breached and/or leaked information, and solutions for companies concerned about the safety of their data. Nowadays, companies and organizations must worry not only about foreign governments stealing their sensitive information (for instance, the Russian government’s alleged hack of Democratic National Committee files this year) but also “hacktivists” bent on embarrassing parties, criminal actors seeking to sell information, and user negligence, panelists said.

“There’s an endless series of lessons for all of us,” Sussman noted.

Applying those lessons can be difficult, given that each party involved in the arbitration has its own security standards. Even if industry leaders were open to storing and sharing records over the same secure system, such a system would prove “incredibly expensive,” said Eric Tuchmann, general counsel for AAA/ICDR.

“We still have some ways to go, and this is an issue that’s moving very quickly,” Tuchmann added.

The day’s other panels included “Emergency Arbitrators and the Courts: Where Should Parties Seek Interim Measures?”; “Issues on the Latin American Horizon”; “The Enforceability of Awards Set Aside at the Seat”; and “Arbitrator Practices that Foster Settlement/Mixing the Processes – the Spectrum Across the Globe.”

The conference also featured a tribute to Arthur W. Rovine, former director of the conference, for his contributions to the field of international arbitration and mediation.

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