PRESS RELEASE – THE first meeting of the Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts was held on May 4 and 5 in London, United Kingdom under the leadership of the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales, Rt. Hon. Lord Thomas.
This marked the first time that the world’s Commercial Courts have met in one place. It is hoped that this forum will provide guidance to commercial courts around the world and serve as an avenue for cooperation and collaboration among them.
In attendance at the forum were Chief Justices and other members of the judiciary of commercial courts from regions across the globe, including, Africa, Asia, Australasia, Europe, the Middle East, North America and the Caribbean. The Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court was represented by Her Ladyship, Hon. Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, Chief Justice, and His Lordship, Hon. Mr. Paul Webster, Justice of Appeal [Ag.].
The focus of the meeting was on collaboration and cooperation between commercial courts. The reason for this focus was to build an understanding of each other among the world’s commercial courts and to explore areas in which collaboration could result in greater efficiencies and benefits for commercial courts the world over.
Discussions took the form of round-table talks and the delivery of remarks by select distinguished members of the participating judiciaries. Presenters included Hon. Bart M. Katureebe, Chief Justice of Uganda; Hon. Justice Liu Guixiang, Chief Justice of the No.1 Circuit Court of the Supreme People’s Court of China; Hon. Loretta Preska, Senior Judge, Southern District of New York Courts; and the Eastern Caribbean Supreme Court’s very own Her Ladyship, Hon. Dame Janice M. Pereira, DBE, Chief Justice.
The first set of round-table discussions was centred on collaboration and cooperation of commercial courts in general. Participants then focused on the enforcement of judgments in the second round-table discussion.
Following that, they considered how deepening the understanding of the commercial court processes used in each country could lead to greater confidence by the court of one country in the judgment of courts of other countries. This, participants hope, will lead to greater opportunity for the development of commercial courts in the area of enforcement.
The third set of round-table discussions focused on case management, technology and best practices. Participants discussed the differing procedures used by commercial courts in managing cases as well as ways in which technology is used to facilitate the hearing and disposition of matters. Participants evaluated methods currently employed by their own commercial courts and examined best practices to improve the commercial court system.
The fourth and final area of discussion was the relationship between commercial courts and arbitration and mediation, particularly the different approaches that countries take in forging a relationship between commercial courts and arbitration.
Enforcement of arbitration awards is one of the key roles that commercial courts play in this relationship; however, besides enforcement, participants examined other roles of support and supervision that commercial courts can provide to arbitration. These include the resolution of jurisdiction disputes, the granting of freezing or search and seize orders to protect assets to meet an award, and the appointment or removal of arbitrators, amongst other areas.
Participants, therefore, recognized the importance of dialogue between commercial courts and arbitral bodies built on mutual respect and the complementary nature of their respective roles. In relation to mediation, the participants looked at the different ways that mediation can be used in commercial matters and how commercial courts can encourage its use where appropriate, thus developing best practices for use of mediation in commercial court matters.
Moving forward, it is hoped that more commercial courts will participate in future meetings of the Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts and that more areas of cooperation and collaboration can be identified. To this end, there have been discussions towards the establishment of a Secretariat to take discussions and decisions of the Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts forward. This will certainly bode well for the future operation of the world’s commercial courts, including the ones in the Eastern Caribbean region.