Musings

Global Arbitration Review recognises Sir David Williams QC

The latest edition of Global Arbitration Review (GAR) gives a glowing report on Sir David Williams’ and Derek Firth’s New Year’s honours.

GAR is an influential international publication, read by all involved in arbitration the world over. In talking to GAR, I commented:

Sir David has put arbitration on the world map – and New Zealand arbitrators along with it.

The GAR article underlines the increasing importance of international arbitration, and  Sir David’s central role in its development.

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By |January 4th, 2017|Uncategorized|

Sir David Williams QC

It was with great pleasure that I learned this morning that David Williams QC, leading member of Bankside Chambers and former President of AMNZ, was to be appointed a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (KNZM); Derek Firth (another former President of AMINZ) appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM); and AMINZ member, David Hosking, a Queen Services Medal (QSM).

Richly deserved recognition on all counts.

AMINZ Press Release

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By |December 30th, 2016|Arbitration, Dispute Resolution|

Retentions Regime under the Construction Contracts Act clarified

The Construction Contracts Amendment Act 2015 introduced a new regime for the holding of retentions in the new Part 2, Subpart 2A of the Act (sections 18A to 18I of the Act).  There has been some uncertainty as to how the new regime will apply.  The requirement for retentions to be held on trust applies to commercial construction contracts over a yet to be determined value from 31 March 2017.  It has now been clarified that the new regime will only apply to contracts entered into or renewed from 31 March 2017.

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John Walton named in LawFuel Top 10 Mediators and Who’s Who Legal

LawFuel has released its list of the Top 10 Mediators for 2016.

Great to be on the list (with such esteemed company – 5 from Bankside Chambers).  Mediation is such an important tool for dispute resolution and for dispute avoidance in long term commercial contracts  where productive working relationships are important.

As I write this, the 2016 Edition of Who’s Who Legal Construction has landed on my desk, and I am also named as one of the world’s leading construction law practitioners. Quite a day!

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By |August 18th, 2016|Construction, Mediation|

John Walton in LawFuel’s 2016 list of arbitrators to watch

Legal publisher, LawFuel, has released its 2016 list of arbitration stars – John Walton has been listed as an “up-and-comer” or one to watch, along with former Solicitor-General Mike Heron QC, NZDRC’s John Green, rural specialist Ranald Gordon, Chapman Tripp’s Daniel Kalderimis and Russell McVeagh’s Sally Fitzgerald.

It’s an illustrious list. 

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John Walton elected as President of AMINZ

I am delighted (and flattered, to be honest) to be elected as President of the Arbitrators’ & Mediators’ Institute of New Zealand, unopposed for the next two years.

I have been fulfilling the role since December 2015, when I was appointed by the Council of AMINZ following the resignation of the previous President, David Patten.  My election reflects the support of the general membership of the Institute in my appointment, for which I am honoured and extremely grateful.

Congratulations also to my colleague at Bankside ChambersRoyden Hindle, on his election as Vice-President (also unopposed).

There are considerable challenges, and corresponding opportunities, for private dispute resolution in the years ahead, not least the growing importance of mediation, the current construction boom and increasing availability and reliance on international dispute resolution.  AMINZ is also co-hosting the International Council for Commercial Arbitration Congress in Sydney in 2018, following which AMINZ will host the AMINZ-ICCA International Arbitration Day in Queenstown, immediately following the Sydney event.

I am honoured to be working with my colleagues on Council and with the AMINZ Executive; I am confident we will maintain the position of AMINZ as the pre-eminent professional body for mediators and arbitrators in New Zealand and in the region, and we will work hard to promote the services of our members and to provide opportunities for them.

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By |July 13th, 2016|Dispute Resolution|

LawTalk article – Construction Contracts Amendment Act 2015

A revised version of my article on the Construction Contracts Amendment Act 2015 has been published in the 2 June 2016 edition of Law Talk, the New Zealand Law Society’s magazine.

To read the article online, click here.

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TPPA – Chill Wind, or Hot Air

With the increase in global trade, and cross-border investment over the last 20 years in particular, it has become critical for parties to develop a means of settling disputes and for lawyers to be able to advise them.  International arbitration has provided a reliable and effective means of ensuring disputes are dealt with under the rule of law; it is an accepted means for parties to settle commercial disputes, and the only effective means for dispute resolution in cross border disputes.  The alternative would require one party to submit to the jurisdiction of the courts of the other.  In practical terms, that would constrain most inward investment from the First World into the developing world.

This is where much of the criticism of ISDS is centred.

The following article was published in the latest edition of LawNews, the publication of the Auckland District Law Society Inc.

TPPA – LawNews

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ISDS under the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement

I had the interesting experience yesterday of attending the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Select Committee at Parliament in Wellington.

I was appearing in my capacity as President of AMINZ, and head of AMINZ International, along with Deborah Hart, the Executive Director, and Simon Foote, a colleague from Bankside Chambers who practises in investor state arbitration.  We were allocated 15 minutes from 10.00 am, which is tight for such a potentially complicated and controversial topic.

What became almost immediately apparent is that, apart from William Rolleston of Federated Farmers, few if any of the submitters actually knew much about investor-state dispute settlement, or arbitration generally.  When I pointed out in my opening remarks that much of the comments to date over ISDS had been “unhelpful” and had not really made a positive contribution to the debate, this prompted a rebuke from Green’s MP, Dr Kennedy Graham, that this was not a kind way to refer to submitters.  He smiled when I pointed out to him that we were certainly not casting aspersions on the submitters, but commenting generally about the quality of the debate.

Arbitration is the preferred method of resolving commercial disputes, and is thinly effective means of resolving disputes concerning cross-border transactions.  In relation to ISDS, the TPPA contains more protection for Staes than rights for multi-national investors, and the statistics over ISDS arbitration really does not bear out the pessimistic predictions published to date.

It is fair to say that the Members were very interested in our presentation, and both Simon and I were peppered with questions over issues ranging from arbitral appointments, the reputed cabal of arbitrators making secretive awards, and the cost of arbitration under ISDS. The Committee ran out of time after 45 minutes, and asked us if we would be able to provide further information if required.  All in all, it was an interesting trip, well worth the time and effort.

A copy of our submission is attached.

TPPA – AMINZ Information to Select Committee-FINAL

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ISDS – What it means in practice

The arbitral award in the case of von Pezold v Republic of Zimbabwe, issued in July 2015, has recently been released online.

The case provides an interesting example of how investor state dispute settlement (ISDS) works in practice – it also gives an interesting perspective into ISDS at a time when the debate over the TPPA seems to be dominated by more heat than balance.

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