KLRCA’s Talk Series returned for the second time in January with a brand new session titled, ‘Increasing the time and cost efficiency of arbitration – Is the German Approach viable in an international context’. There was a fresh change of backdrop as the evening talk was held at the Pavilion section of Bangunan Sulaiman instead of within the familiar auditorium walls.
Headlining this session was Dr Axel Regg, a German who has extensive experience in dispute resolution, both as an arbitrator (primarily ICC and DIS), and as counsel in international arbitration and before state courts. In addition, Dr Axel also lectures International Commercial Arbitration at the University of Heidelberg, Germany’s oldest university. Moderating the talk was Kuhendran Thanapalasingam.
The objective of this talk was to provide attendees with a view on Civil Law, mainly German procedural law instruments fostering the efficiency of dispute resolution, such as early and on-going assessment of the merits, promotion of settlements and a more managerial role of arbitrators; whilst discussing whether and to which extent such features of the German approach can and should be used in an international context.
With the Seminar Room filled, Dr Axel began his presentation by providing the audience with an overview of ‘The German Problem vs The German Advantage’ and ‘Features of German Civil Procedure and Domestic Arbitration’. He then introduced six key elements of the German Civil Procedure before explaining in detail what each element signified. The elements included; ‘Full statements of claim and defence presented at the start’, ‘Relevance test by Tribunal’, ‘Discussion of merits all through proceedings’, ‘ Tribunal’s duty to indicate relevant issues’, ‘ Taking of evidence restricted and controlled by Tribunal’ and ‘Settlement Facilitation: obligation of a Tribunal’.
Having summarised the German Civil Procedure in full to the attendees, Dr Axel then proceeded to discuss how experts often had contradictory views on the subject matter – with a portion labelling it ‘The German Problem’ while others perceived it as ‘The German Advantage’. Inclined towards the latter, he felt that the features clearly help to make dispute resolution in courts and in arbitral tribunals more time and cost efficient, as there is more focus on what is a decisive issue.
The presenter edged towards his conclusion by posing the question of the evening once more – ‘Is the German Approach viable in an international context?’. A momentary pause followed before Dr Axel expressed his view; that while direct application was certainly not possible, some features may be adopted. He closed his presentation by sharing numerous recommendations that could be done to allow the adaptation of these features into international commercial arbitration.
Proceedings for the evening ended with Kuhendran taking over the stand to moderate an absorbing question and answer session.