GAR Volume 15 - Issue 2
On the cusp of 2020, Li Wenliang sent a group chat message to his fellow doctors at Wuhan Central Hospital warning of a mysterious virus that was spreading among patients. Days later, Chinese authorities accused him of having “severely disturbed the social order”. Just over a month after he first sounded the alarm, the then-still nameless virus killed him.
A severe disturbance of the social order is one way to characterise the impact of the novel coronavirus – and the disease it causes, covid-19 – which has rapidly spread around the world, causing a tragic loss of life and bringing the global economy to standstill.
Much speculation from arbitration practitioners has centred on whether the radical measures taken by states to stop the spread of coronavirus could give rise to investment claims – a possibility considered in our cover story by an ArbLit team led by partner Massimo Benedettelli.
With restrictions on movement and large gatherings having made in-person arbitral hearings largely impossible for the time being, Canadian arbitrator Janet Walker considers whether practitioners are ready to rise to the challenge of adapting to this new reality through technology.
Failure to adapt could have a heavy price, according to David Branson, an arbitrator and counsel based in Washington, DC. He says practitioners must learn from the tragedy of a US choir, the Skagit Valley Chorale, which suffered a covid-19 outbreak after it went ahead with in-person practice.
There is non-covid coverage too. In our fourth feature, Starla Griffin of Slaney Advisors says that countries that have been on the receiving end of multibillion-dollar arbitration awards are not being transparent about these debts, arguing it is time for this practice to stop.
A well-known Swiss arbitrator recently told GAR that before the coronavirus, there was the “corruption virus”. Two practitioners from Bonifassi Avocats welcome the French courts’ willingness to re-examine findings on corruption in arbitral awards – but say that tribunals must do more to confront the issue. We also cover the small matter of an agreement signed by a majority of EU member states to terminate intra-EU bilateral investment treaties.
We round out by paying tribute to some of the leading lights in the field of arbitration who have died in recent months: renowned arbitrator Johnny Veeder QC; international investment law specialist Rudolf Dolzer; Ghanaian judge Thomas Mensah; Chinese arbitration pioneer Tang Houzhi; and former Chartered Institute of Arbitrators president Vinayak Pradhan.
In this magazine:
- GAR Live: India
- First reflections from Italy
- Virtual hearings – the new normal?
- Covid-19: Learn from the Skagit Valley Chorale
- Time for more transparency on sovereign debt
- Why arbitrators need to confront corruption allegations
- Obituaries: Johnny Veeder QC, Rudolf Dolzer, Thomas Mensah, Tang Houzhi and Vinayak Pradhan