The Global Pound Conference Visits Miami
My colleague Ricardo Cata and I recently joined other neutrals, educators, judges, business executives, inside and external counsel at the University of Miami’s Newman Alumni Center for the Global Pound Conference Series (GPC) event in Miami. The purpose of the GPC is to gauge the current state of commercial dispute resolution from the perspectives of varied stakeholders, and to generate ideas and data to inform where alternative dispute resolution goes from here.
About 40 events in 31 countries began with Singapore in March 2016 and will conclude with London in July 2017. The Miami GPC (April 2017) along with those in New York, Austin, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Baltimore (June 8, 2017) constitute the U.S. stops and opportunities for influencing the “global” state of ADR. Primarily focused on business disputes, the GPC is examines both adjudicative and non-adjudicative ADR options. The format of esteemed panels discussing perceptions of “core questions” common to each event, online real-time voting and comment (which kept us trained on our smartphones and tablets like a bunch of teenagers), and discussions by and among attendees create a uniquely interactive event.
The panels and audience in Miami comprised primarily Floridians and South Americans. And there was a strong current of participants who participate in cross-border commercial dispute resolution including arbitration and mediation. Suffice it to say perceptions of the current state of ADR are driven by one’s experience, and those of us lucky enough to call Florida our professional home enjoy the benefits of a mature dispute resolution community and have views consistent with that. Familiarity clearly drives comfort with various dispute resolution options. For instance, mediation, a familiar part of the landscape in Florida, is a popular avenue for business decision makers; arbitration, which is more familiar in South America, is more popular there than mediation. Given how experience impacts perception, it will be interesting to see how the U.S.-derived data differs from international data, and how Miami and Austin data may differ from Los Angeles and San Francisco.
The GPC events each include a session that examines party needs and expectations in commercial dispute resolution, one that explores party expectations, one that identifies obstacles and challenges in commercial dispute resolution, and one that tackles what can be done to improve commercial dispute resolution. Once the series concludes, organizers will have a truly global view of these issues and, with that, perhaps a roadmap for making improvements to commercial dispute resolution mechanisms and practices.
Some of the points raised in Miami:
- The “bottom line” is always the bottom line (with few exceptions) and as a result premiums are placed on speed and cost. While not every decision may seem to be bottom line driven, all major concerns have a bottom line impact. And predictability is also valued.
- While ADR is seen commonly as conflict resolution, aspects of it, like mediation, should be utilized earlier so as to also serve as dispute avoidance or prevention.
- While litigation might be important at a particular time in a particular case, it really is what inside counsel wants last.
- Outside litigators are valued more when they give counsel and guidance on various ADR options and advocate litigation as a last resort. Those who always push for litigation first may see less repeat business.
- The parties in disputes want to hear more from their lawyers than their lawyers think they want to hear.
- If arbitration continues to get more expensive and time-consuming, and the burdens of discovery grow, preferences for mediation will grow.
- Escalation Clauses in pre-dispute cross border contracts are gaining favor.
- Judges may place more value on equity than lawyers or parties realize; and look for ADR provisions to enforce.
- Commercial clients want courts to shape the case so the parties are more able or willing to negotiate to an acceptable solution.
- When a method of dispute resolution is unfamiliar, it can gain acceptance first via a legislative, rule or procedural construct. And commercial interests prefer more cost effective, efficient and streamlined processes.
We will see if the rest of the world agrees.
To learn more about the GPC, visit globalpoundconference.org
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