Dublin International Arbitration Day Conference 2019

November 18, 2019

Six Pump Court members Paul McGarry SC, Gordon Wignall and Natasha Hausdorff attended the International Arbitration Day Conference in Dublin last week.

This was the seventh annual event for Ireland’s leading conference on international arbitration. There was an outstanding line up of international expert speakers on a variety of topical arbitration issues.

In particular the discussions on climate change issues which are now beginning to appear in arbitrations and in litigation world-wide were of particular relevance to members of Six Pump Court’s environmental group and their clients. These included public law issues such as the Urgenda litigation in the Hague, in which the appellate judges agreed that there should be a legislative measure domestically which would accelerate greenhouse gas reductions. Of more interest, however, are the private law efforts being made in America, as well as in Germany and elsewhere, to demonstrate causation between the acts and omissions of private entities, and localised environmental damage. Targets include BP and RWE. Privately, talk round the room was of more such cases being taken, in the expectation that one day such a claim will succeed. There are very formidable obstacles to overcome in common law jurisdictions where claimants are seeking (as at present) to rely on public nuisance, and a certain novelty of approach will be needed if claimants are to be able to get home.

Paul McGarry SC chaired a panel session on the merits of the EU in the context of international arbitration, Paul’s fearlessly independent approach being noted, especially when he indicated the use of his casting vote in a certain direction during the introduction.

Another panel section which was of interest to members of Six Pump Court was a final session on litigation funding. Ireland is an outlier on the availability of funding, with no real optimism being expressed for change in the near future. One key funder which was present, having funded expensive litigation to try and open the market, was clear that it would not be trying again any time soon.

Anyone who acquired a ticket to the arbitration day only for the Irish hospitality would have found it of excellent value first for the dinner, and then for the entertainment in the private pub (if there is such a thing) hidden in the heart of the barristers’ building. It was the senior counsel (of a certain age) who distinguished themselves, above all, by their Irish dancing well into the small hours.