Invest in tech or play catch up with courts, warns Al Tamimi

Invest in tech or play catch up with courts, warns Al Tamimi

17 January 2019

Leading UAE arbitrator Essam Al Tamimi warned in a keynote speech at GAR Live Dubai that arbitral institutions must invest in technology or they will be forced to play catch up with the courts, as well as highlighting how more needs to be done to develop arbitration talent in the Middle East.


Mohamed Abdel Wahab

Zulficar & Partners

Prof. Dr. Abdel Wahab is recognized as a world leading expert on international arbitration, Arab Laws, and Islamic Shari’a. His expertise spans construction, oil & gas, telecommunications, finance and hospitality disputes involving cross border multi- jurisdictional and highly complex contracts and transactions.

Erin Miller Rankin

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Erin is a global partner who advises on legal strategy and managing risks on major projects. She leads a team of specialist practitioners that works across the world supporting our clients on their major capital projects, with a particular focus on emerging markets.

Keynote Speakers

Tarek Riad

Kosheri, Rashed & Riad and Chairman, Dubai International Arbitration Centre Executive Committee

Essam Al Tamimi

Al Tamimi & Company

Essam Al Tamimi has over 34 years of experience in litigation and arbitration in the UAE and the GCC countries covering almost all fields of law, both private and public law, including matters relating to corporate and commercial law, banking and financial law, real estate and property law, across several industries and sectors.


Mark Blanksby

Clyde & Co

Anthony Edwards

Hadef & Partners

Anne Hoffmann

Independent Arbitrator

Sam Karim QC

Kings Chambers

Amani Khalifa


Mark McNeill

Shearman & Sterling

Yasmin Mohammad

Vannin Capital

Nagla Nassar


Amr Omran

Vinson & Elkins

Stefanie Pfisterer


Joanne Prior

Blackrock Expert Services

Hassan Saeed Abaragh

International Consultant Law Office (ICLO)

Craig Shepherd

Herbert Smith Freehills

Robert Stephen

Registrar, DIFC-LCIA

Sami Tannous

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Tim Taylor QC

King & Wood Mallesons

Roger ter Haar QC

Crown Office Chambers

David Turner QC

4 New Square

Mark Wassouf

3 Verulam Buildings

Jeremy Winter

Independent Arbitrator


9.00: Welcome coffee and registration

9.30: Chairs' opening remarks

Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Zulficar & Partners
Erin Miller Rankin, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

9.45: Session one: AI for IA – the intersection of technology and due process paranoia

The arrival of a host of new technological tools poses both challenges and opportunities for international arbitration. Which tools will be of the greatest use, will any be truly disruptive, and is the world of IA ready for a future in which artificial intelligence and software applications could replace some of what decision makers currently do, for far less cost? Are there any risks associated with the use of virtual data rooms? How can such virtual data rooms facilitate efficiency and expediency in IA? And what of due process? Is there a danger that artificial intelligence and technological applications un-level the playing field, or are perceived to?

Topics the panel are expected to cover include: data security and virtual data rooms, blockchain, cryptocurrencies and AI and predictive software/judge analytics.

Particular questions they’re expected to discuss include:

  • Which technologies are most relevant?
  • Can technologies be categorised as 'technology-facilitated' dispute resolution schemes and 'technology-based' dispute resolution processes? 
  • What should traditional arbitral institutions do if they want to stay in the game? Do they have to be tech savvy?
  • Do any of the above technologies have the potential to be truly disruptive or game changers? 
  • Can predictive justice systems lead to more challenges to arbitrators on account of known or perceived predispositions? 
  • Can artificial intelligence replace human arbitrators and counsel?
  • Will confidentiality impede AI from developing the same sort of judge-analytics now being seen in recent litigation in some jurisdictions?
  • Does technology have the potential to create an un-level playing field, or the perception thereof?
  • Do technology disputes represent a growth area for international arbitration, or are such disputes better suited to courts? 
  • Can cryptocurrency related disputes be arbitrated? Do they raise issues of illegality and arbitrability?
  • Is the potential role of blockchain in IA overrated?
  • Is it high time for institutions to offer AI rules for IA proceedings?

Yasmin Mohammad, Vannin Capital

Anne Hoffmann, Independent Arbitrator
Nagla Nassar, NassarLaw 
Sam Karim QC, Kings Chambers
Sami Tannous, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

11.00: Coffee break sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills

11.30: Session two: The GAR Live symposium

Our espresso version of the popular Tylney Hall format. Our moderators will consider issues such as:

  • What challenges does artificial engineering present to arbitrators operating in the Middle East and North Africa?
  • What is the role of co-arbitrators when it comes to handling dissenting opinions on arbitral awards?
  • What is the best way to resign from an arbitral tribunal – and when is that the best option?
  • How can tribunal secretaries ensure an arbitration runs smoothly – and when do they overreach in their role?
  • What challenges arise from the enforcement, or setting aside, of an arbitral award?
  • How can sham awards in the region be rooted out, and what role do interim and consent awards play in muddying the waters?

Craig Shepherd, Herbert Smith Freehills
Anthony Edwards, Hadef & Partners

12.45: Networking lunch sponsored by Clyde & Co

13.45: Lunchtime keynote address

Essam Al Tamimi, Al Tamimi & Company

14.15: Session three: The (ab)use of experts in construction arbitration – where does the line between expert and advocate blur?

Expert witnesses all too often turn into advocates for their cause, particularly in construction arbitration. Why, and what can be done to change the dynamics of the case so that the experts are helpful rather than irrelevant in the eyes of the tribunal?

Problems the panel are likely to explore include:

  • What is the dynamic that leads experts to appear partisan?
  • To what extent are poor instructions to blame for poor performance?
  • How much do problems reflect failings on the part of a tribunal?
  • Are joint expert reports and hot tubbing a complete solution?
  • Do experts owe tribunals a duty of cooperation that overrides the parties' instructions?
  • Are tribunal-appointed experts preferred to party-appointed experts?

Mark McNeill, Shearman & Sterling

Mark Blanksby, Clyde & Co
David Turner QC, 4 New Square
Amani Khalifa, Khalifa 
Joanne Prior, Blackrock Expert Services
Hassan Saeed Abaragh, International Consultant Law Office (ICLO)

15.30: Coffee break sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills

16.00: Session four: The GAR Live Inquisition – out with the old and in with the new?

In GAR Live’s popular format, this session will replicate a US senate committee hearing with a succession of witnesses being ‘grilled' by a panel of GAR Live inquisitors.

This session will pit ‘next generation’ figures against members of the IA ‘establishment’. The up-and-coming group will be challenged on why they deserve to get greater profile, audience and appointments before they have the proven track record. What can the up-and-coming generation offer that the established names cannot? Do younger practitioners “run like deer, but think like deer”?

Roger ter Haar QC, Crown Office Chambers
Tim Taylor QC, King & Wood Mallesons
Jeremy Winter, Independent Arbitrator 

Amr Omran, Vinson & Elkins
Stefanie Pfisterer, Homburger
Robert Stephen, Registrar, DIFC-LCIA
Mark Wassouf, 3 Verulam Buildings

17.15: Closing remarks by DIAC

Tarek Riad, Kosheri, Rashed & Riad and Chairman, Dubai International Arbitration Centre Executive Committee

17.25: Chairs' closing remarks

Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Zulficar & Partners
Erin Miller Rankin, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

17.30 onwards: All delegates are invited to attend a drinks reception kindly hosted by Blackrock Expert Services 


DIFC Conference Centre, The Exchange Building, Gate Village 11, Dubai International Financial Centre, Dubai, United Arab Emirates


  • "Very good content, informed and experienced speakers, cutting-edge topics"

Ticket prices

Private Practitioner
Type Price Until
Super Early £750 5 October 2018
Early £950 2 November 2018
Standard £1,250 15 November 2018


Complimentary in-house/governmental registration available