By Sakshi Solanki
The Chartered Institute of Arbitrators’ Accelerated route to Fellowship (International Arbitration) Assessment was held Oct. 7-8, 2022, at Williams & Connolly LLP’s Washington, D.C., office. It was sponsored by CPR.
I was invited to join and participate with nearly 15 senior practitioners, who attended this training program and brought their litigation, arbitration, and mediation backgrounds.
The CIArb faculty included five moderators, John Buckley, senior counsel at Williams & Connolly LLP in Washington; Jim Reiman, who heads his own Chicago ADR practice; Merriann Panarella, an arbitrator and mediator based in Wellesley, Mass., who also serves as a board member of CIArb’s North America Branch; Kenneth Reisenfeld, a Washington-based partner in Baker & Hosteler LLP, who heads the firm’s global investor-state arbitration practice, and Gaela Gehring Flores, an international arbitration practice partner in the Washington office of Allen & Overy.
The faculty reviewed with the students the laws, rules and procedures governing arbitration. They also assessed participants on their legal knowledge, understanding of the problems presented, and skills as an acting arbitrator or lead counsel.
The participants worked on a fact pattern that involved a complex international construction dispute. The insurance contract between the parties had an arbitration clause which was subject to UNCITRAL Arbitration Rules, and the working documents were based on Panamanian and English law. The place of the arbitration was Toronto.
The training involved 22 interesting exercises, either in a discussion or a roleplaying format, where the participants were divided as either the claimant or the respondent, and where they often played the role of an arbitral tribunal.
There were two breakout rooms for the exercises, and students were shuffled four times in the two training days so that everyone could engage with each other on the exercises.
Among the problems implicated were the constitution of the tribunal, the language of the arbitration, and the challenge and replacement of an arbitrator. Each attendee argued diligently for their assigned side or roleplayed as the arbitral tribunal. I found each exercise to be fun and highly interactive when we discussed various possibilities in resolving a particular issue.
As the training proceeded, the fact pattern got more intense. Issues of fraud, corruption, and expert witnesses were discussed. Toward the end of the first training day, Jim Reiman lectured on drafting procedural orders. He emphasized the importance of drafting orders in a way to avoid difficulties at the latter stage of the proceedings. After the end of the first day, the attendees were asked to draft either an interim award or a procedural order overnight, based on what was discussed.
The training not only relied on UNCITRAL arbitration rules but also made references to the CIArb Code of Professional and Ethical Conduct, which often comes into play to govern arbitrator conduct. There were also references made to the International Bar Association Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration to deliberate on issues of discovery and production of documents.
All the attendees were also expected to draft a final award as the presiding arbitrator. They had to decide the case on the merits and rule on every issue that was submitted.
This was an excellent opportunity for me to be present in a room full of senior knowledgeable practitioners and see them strategize on various accounts and in different roles. The training had a perfect blend of real-time scenarios and use of substantive laws, which I thoroughly enjoyed. It was an unforgettable experience, and I appreciate the faculty of the CIArb, CPR, and the fellow participants who were extremely kind and gracious in allowing me to observe as well as participate in these two days of extensive training.
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The author, an LLM candidate at the American University Washington College of Law in Washington, D.C., focusing on International Arbitration and Business Law, is a Fall 2022 CPR Intern.