On 20-21 October 2022, the world’s commercial courts gathered to discuss the most topical themes in commercial dispute resolution. The 4th full meeting of the SIFoCC membership was jointly hosted by the Federal Court of Australia and the Supreme Court of New South Wales. Over 100 judges met physically in Sydney at the Joint Law Courts Building as well as online from across 40 jurisdictions.
The themes under consideration included –
- Working towards an integrated system of Dispute Resolution – Commercial Courts, Arbitration and Mediation. The notion of enforcement is normalising. It is time to focus beyond enforcement to how the different arms of the system – Commercial Courts, arbitration and mediation – should be looking at each other more generally. In doing this it is important to recognise that there is a range of jurisdictions who are at different stages in the journey, and different jurisdictions currently have different balances between Commercial Courts, arbitration and mediation.
- Managing complexity, and the “complexification” of disputes – Individual cases can make huge demands on available resources; the expectations of the parties and their legal teams are growing and there are consequences for other litigants. Quite apart from technology in court, Commercial Courts face a shared challenge of keeping abreast of technology in commerce in order to understand the cases to be heard. Some cases are almost unmanageable, and a trend of “complexification” has been identified.
- The future for corporate legal responsibility, purpose and governance – Global issues from modern slavery to the environment to climate change are now central issues for business and investment. Global issues will increasingly be at the centre of commercial disputes; and the resolution of commercial disputes will affect the development of these global issues.
- Jurisdictional conflicts internationally – Jurisdictional conflicts are at risk of becoming of increasing significance in the future; examples include patent, antitrust, competition, and insolvency; and more generally as business operates across global platforms (with large technology companies as an increasingly important example). In some areas there are no or no fully developed internationally accepted rules for solving jurisdictional conflicts. Given this, there is a potentially increased need for cooperation and discussion between national courts.
The event was opened by the Attorney General of the Commonwealth of Australia and included external contributions from organisations including the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) and the British Academy.
Chief Justice Menon from Singapore gave the keynote address entitled “SIFoCC playing its part as a cornerstone of a transnational system of justice”. The key messages and the full text of the address can be found here.
Her Excellency Margaret Beazley AC KC, Governor of New South Wales hosted a dinner at Government House.
Lord Thomas, Chair of the SIFoCC Steering Group said of the event – “It is vital to have the opportunity to discuss – in person and online- these really crucial subjects at such a senior and global level. SIFoCC continues to demonstrate its importance to the growth of international trade and commerce in our changing world by being at the forefront of international judicial dialogue and collaboration.”
The next full meeting of the SIFoCC membership has been provisionally confirmed to take place in the Middle East, with Qatar hosting in March 2024.
- Each of the contributions and following roundtable discussions around the themes are being made available on the SIFoCC YouTube channel.
- The programme, materials, delegates and a full gallery of images can be found via the SIFoCC events portal.
- A full report of the 4th SIFoCC meeting will be published in the coming months.