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Wednesday 28 October


Sir Christopher Clarke gives Jonathan Hirst memorial Lecture, London: the venue of choice for international disputes in the year ahead?

The Brick Court Chambers annual lecture in memory of Jonathan Hirst QC was given at Temple Place on 20 May. In it, Sir Christopher Clarke, arbitrator and former Lord Justice of Appeal, made reference to the factors which he said would continue to ensure the pre-eminent position of London as a centre for the resolution of international commercial disputes. The high number of cases in the Commercial Court and in arbitration compared with other venues was evidence of London’s continuing success.  The availability of the procedures of the Commercial Court, its experienced judges and the availability of rights of appeal were contributing factors. Other reasons included the neutrality of London, the availability of high class mediators and the flexibility and certainty of English law which made it “good for business”.

In support of the case that English law was business friendly, Sir Christopher cited recent cases concerning awards of damages (The Achilleas), liquidated damages and penalties (Cavendish Holding BV v  Makdessi), the consequences of lies in insurance claims (Versloot Dredging BV v HDI Gerling Industrie Versicherung AG) and the rejection of the vague Civil Law concept of a universal or general duty of good faith in the performance of contracts (except in well recognised areas such as insurance and partnership and, more recently, “relational” contracts).

On Brexit Sir Christopher said:"The pervasive use of English law and its attraction to the business community, coupled with the fantastic skills of our legal community – judges, solicitors and barristers - mean that our courts and arbitral tribunals will continue to have plenty of work to do. The City will remain a global finance centre.  People do not choose to arbitrate in London because the UK is a member of the EU. The enforcement of agreements to arbitrate and of arbitration awards – governed by the New York Convention – will be unaffected by Brexit”

Please click here to read the Lecture.

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