Adapting to change in the world was a central focus on the first day of LIDW22, as delegates encouraged…
Adapting to change in the world was front and center on the first day of LIDW22, as delegates encouraged London to be pragmatic about the loss of Russian work, while Ukrainian lawyers continue to work, and there are mixed fortunes for settling disputes in the rest of the region.
London International Disputes Week (LIDW) kicked off today (9 May) with a focus on its global perspective, hosting an ‘international day’, comprised of hybrid in-person and online sessions taking into account London’s relationships with major jurisdictions around the world.
Most topical was an early morning panel on “London as a dispute resolution center for disputes involving parties from Ukraine and Kazakhstan”, held at PRC and chaired by Professor Loukas Mistelis of Clyde & Co.Queen Mary University of London and the LIDW Organizing Committee.
Mistelis began with a statement of support for those in Ukraine, and with lawyers from that country attending the session remotely and in person, the human impact of the situation was very visible.
LONDON AT A CROSSROADS
“London has always been a hub for disputes from the former Soviet Union,” said Tatiana Minaeva of PRC, but after the invasion, “companies began to feel immense pressure,” not only from a public relations perspective, but also from a compliance and due diligence perspective.
This attention to Ukraine had caused a bad “smell” for the city, said Adam Greaves of LK Law. “A lot of city businesses and their international corporate clients don’t like that, clearly people don’t want to get that kind of attention.”
Although companies have the right to continue working for their clients, he noted that most have taken action in their Moscow offices and made public statements about the situation, and that Russian work should stay away. of the city as long as Vladimir Putin remains in power, he added.
This withdrawal had also created dilemmas, as discovered oger when a court in the British Virgin Islands refused to let him step aside from a case. “Every person needs legal protection in the midst of litigation,” Minaeva said.
London would normally expect to benefit from the large number of contracts that involve parties linked to Russia and specify English law, which has created another gray area as, for now, these contracts remain in place.
“That will change over time and [for] In Russia, there will be more drift to Singapore and other jurisdictions,” Greaves said. “The influence of Russian disputes will fade over time and that’s a shame for the London dispute market.”
While some lawyers were appalled by this loss of work, Epaminontas Triantafilou of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan dismissed it as “commercial reality”.
“There are other clients who care very deeply whether a company does Russian work or not,” he said. “It’s like any other trade dispute.” Nor was he concerned “that a serious procedural injustice would occur” to Russian clients, who continue their cases and were able to appoint new counsel.
Institutions have been understanding and there is a significant market in jurisdictions such as Singapore and Dubai that will continue to serve them. The courts are amply equipped to deal with the situation, as the rules of the International Bar Association and other institutions allow for situations where counsel, witnesses or parties are prevented from participating in the proceedings due to their circumstances, explained Alexander Uff of quadrant rooms.
The war will create its own conflicts, and “it’s very clear that the conflict business will continue, everyone has a right to legal representation,” Greaves said, noting that some lawyers had insisted on continuing their Russian practices. He predicted that they would defect to smaller businesses or set up shops where they could continue their work.
Otherwise, “in terms of Ukrainian customers, London will remain a very good place to resolve disputes,” Minaeva said, and eventually “the market will normalize,” while Greaves noted the sad truth that “turbulence is good for litigation attorneys.
Mistelis encouraged London lawyers to be patient with the situation and take a long-term view, saying “impatience is a sign of youth and London is a mature market”.
OPERATION IN UKRAINE
Among the discussions about the impact on the London legal market, it was important not to lose sight of those most affected, and speaking remotely from Ukraine, Olena Perepelnyska of Integrities and the Ukrainian Arbitration Association called on the international legal community not to neglect its colleagues: “Ukrainian arbitrators should not be struck off.
Although Ukrainian proceedings were suspended for a time in March, they quickly resumed and “the majority of Ukrainian arbitration practitioners have found ways to work” whether they are still in the country or abroad , she said.
KAZAKHSTAN AND APPLICATION
Ukraine was not the only jurisdiction under discussion. International execution in Kazakhstan is a hot topic given the local presence of Russian assets and Askar Konysbayev of GRATA International gave an update, explaining that a recent case had proven that it was possible to repossess a plane that had landed in Kazakhstan.
Arbitral enforcement is possible through the New York Convention, although Konysbayev warned there were complications with courts subject to influence and pressure. He hoped that the upcoming referendum on June 5 on constitutional reform that would reduce the power of the president and give parliament a greater role would improve this situation.
Elsewhere, the fortunes of civil justice in the Central and Eastern European region have been mixed, according to a panel organized by Allen & Overy and moderated by a former member of the firm, Stephane Denyer from The bar.
Poland is currently in a difficult situation, explained Malgorzata Surdek-Janicka of CMS. The decision by the ruling Law and Justice party to bring the judiciary under government control and penalize judges for unpopular rulings or for criticizing the measures, was “scandalous”, she said, and put the country in conflict with Europe.
In transition is Slovakia, where Lucia Raimanova d’A&O hopes that the proposed reforms and the crackdown on corruption in the judicial system will “improve the quality” of civil justice, while there was better news from Romania, where the system is “very good”, has explained Cosmine Vasile of Zamfirescu Racoti Vasile & Partners.
Paulius Docka of Primus Derling explained the relevance of English law for Lithuania, but noted that Stockholm remains a popular site for dispute resolution, thanks to effective marketing.
Across the region, prospects for civil recovery have improved in recent years, according to statistics presented by Raimanova.
The day also focused on London’s relationship with litigation markets in East Asia, the United Arab Emirates, India, offshore jurisdictions, Latin America, Africa and North America.
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