The firm was recently invited to be a media partner for the first Asia Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Week 2018, organised by the Asian International Arbitration Centre (“AIAC”) (formerly known as KLRCA). ADR Week 2018 was held on 5 – 7 May 2018.

In light of its recent rebranding, AIAC aims to make its mark as a leading ADR hub in Asia by not only providing a platform for dispute resolution but by also expanding its horizons to include holistic dispute management and dispute avoidance. The ADR Week conference was attended by close to 300 ADR presenters, practitioners and business heads from within the region.

Here’s a couple of takeaways we gathered from the conference.

Robust commercial growth in Asia brings prominence to ADR

In recent years, Asia has seen exponential commercial growth from various fields such as oil & gas, construction and transportation, banking, multilateral finance, and technology. Experts say that the growth has spurred new grounds for complex foreign ventures and investments within the region. The complexity reveals a greater need for alternative dispute resolution.

Various panels spoke about the emerging trends within the ADR community from cross-border contracts to investment state disputes and how ADR should be realigned to meet the ever changing global business needs.

A rapid-fire debate on the efficiency and importance of arbitration in the local Malaysian context became the topic of conversation as prominent practitioners spoke about the various pros and cons of ADR.

An ADR centre geared towards the future

The region’s ever changing commercial needs have made it necessary for ADR to evolve with the times to make it more adaptive with current trends. Such was reflective in the recent 2018 amendments to the Arbitration Act 2005.

The current advancement in the ADR world has also given rise to dispute avoidance procedures. Practitioners and experts spoke and gave insight about the recent rise in pre-emptive dispute mechanisms built in contracts.

Participants were given a chance to join in separate training workshops on several ADR topics, namely; the application of the AIAC rules in governing arbitration costs proceedings, elements that make up a clad-iron arbitration agreement and various relief interim measures safeguarding parties’ interest pending an outcome of a dispute.

The shift into the digital era has also sparked a recent trend in adapting ADR into an ever changing world. Channeling the current trend of digitization, AIAC had unveiled its new Case Management System to ensure its team of case counsel can administer disputes more efficiently, by providing an online platform to monitor ongoing arbitration.

The advancements made with CIPAA and its future

The Construction Industry Payment and Adjudication Act 2012 (“CIPAA”) was introduced as a solution to ease cashflow problems in the construction industry through a statutory adjudication process. CIPAA was met with praise by many experts given that many local constructions projects are plagued with late or non-payment issues.

6 years into its implementation, the panel took a magnifying glass and assessed the various issues that have arisen from the civil court’s interpretation of CIPAA.

A CIPAA refresher course was also given to attendees which was extremely informative for those who are dealing with CIPAA matters for the first time by covering different spectrums; from writing a concrete-clad adjudication decision, the basics of CIPAA and the administration of adjudication cases and procedural compliance.

The AIAC recently launched a series of standard form contracts as an answer to the prevalent issues plaguing the local construction industry. It is aimed at filling the gaps in standard form building contracts in governing the relationships, rights and duties of parties to a building construction project. A talk revealed that the standardized contracts provided enhanced provisions on several aspects of contract from valuation of variations to insurance obligations and also the various issues that arose since its introduction.

The director of AIAC, Datuk Professor Sundra Rajoo explained the centre has great plans for its development as a premier ADR hub. We cannot help but agree as the game-changing blueprints have earned the interest and also eyes of the ADR community as a whole. The future of ADR looks bright with AIAC’s grand vision as it seeks out to plant its unique regional footprint and global presence. Famous pop culture icon Professor Doc Brown once said “Where we’re going, we don’t need roads”, and the quote certainly rings true in the case of AIAC’s future.

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About the author: Amirul Izzat Hasri is an associate in the dispute resolution practice group at Donovan & Ho. He has experience in a diverse area of practice, including general civil and corporate litigation, judicial reviews, land related matters, defamation, debt recovery, and shareholder and boardroom disputes. He has also appeared in Industrial Court proceedings, having represented both employers and employees in unfair dismissal claims.

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