GAR Live Hong Kong Lookback: Asia’s overlapping investment treaties, chaos or cohesion?

GAR Live Hong Kong Lookback: Asia’s overlapping investment treaties, chaos or cohesion?

15 August 2018

Asia is curious in treaty terms in that any pair of Asian states can be bound by multiple competing pacts. And often those treaties will overlap and even contradict. How has this “noodle soup” of treaties occurred, and what does it mean in practical terms?

The Belt and Road imbalance under scrutiny at GAR Live

The Belt and Road imbalance under scrutiny at GAR Live

12 November 2018

A panel at GAR Live Hong Kong discussed the imbalance of power in the negotiation of contracts related to China’s Belt and Road plan and whether it can be mitigated.


Sarah Grimmer

Secretary-General, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC)

Sarah Grimmer is Secretary-General of Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre. She was formerly Senior Legal Counsel at the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) where she acted as registrar in several inter-State arbitrations under the Law of the Sea Convention and served as tribunal secretary in multiple investment treaty arbitrations and contract-based claims.

Robert Pé

Arbitration Chambers

Robert S. Pé is an independent arbitrator and mediator. He is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and a member of the HKIAC Council, the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce (for Myanmar) and the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR. He is also a member of the CIETAC, HKIAC, LCIA, KLRCA, SIAC and SHIAC panels of arbitrators and has decided multiple disputes arising from private equity investments in Asia. 


Chiann Bao

Arbitration Chambers

George Bermann

Columbia Law School

Olga Boltenko

Fangda Partners

Cedric Chao

DLA Piper

Simon Chapman

Herbert Smith Freehills

John Choong

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Chungang Dong

Jingtian & Gongcheng

Nils Eliasson

Shearman & Sterling

Matthew Gearing QC

Allen & Overy

Lord Goldsmith QC

Debevoise & Plimpton

Karen Gough

39 Essex Chambers

Bernard Hanotiau

Hanotiau & van den Berg

Peter Hirst

Clyde & Co

Benjamin Hughes

Independent Arbitrator and Associate Professor of Law, Seoul National University

Lucy Martinez

Independent Consultant, Counsel, and Arbitrator

Yoshimi Ohara

Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu

Colin Ong QC

Dr Colin Ong Legal Services

David Rivkin

Debevoise & Plimpton

James Spigelman AC QC

One Essex Court

Louise Stoupe

Morrison & Foerster

Melanie van Leeuwen

Derains & Gharavi

Patrick Zheng

Llinks Law

CPD Points

This conference is accredited with 5 CPD points by the The Law Society of Hong Kong. 


8.30: Welcome coffee and registration

9.00: Chairs' opening remarks

Sarah Grimmer, Secretary-General, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC)
Robert Pé, Arbitration Chambers

9.10: Session one: Negotiating power: balance, mismatch and being caught in the crossfire

Different actors in trade and investment have different levels of negotiating power. In China’s Belt and Road Initiative, contracts have been negotiated amid an imbalance of power: one side has all of the financial leverage and the other has none.

In particular the panel will address the following questions:

  • What will the implications of that be, especially at key stages in a project, such as when an administration changes, or when a dispute crystallises?
  • Will tribunals rewrite contracts to counter the imbalance of power; should they?

In the context of a US-China, or US-EU, trade war, who holds the negotiating power in trade talks? Individuals from a range of relevant backgrounds will discuss the kinds of disputes that may affect Asian parties if the US follows its protectionist path.

 In particular the panel will discuss:

  • Which entities will get caught in the crossfire of a trade war and what power do they have, if any?
  • What would that mean for contracts that have to be performed, and by extension international arbitration relating to those contracts?
  • Which forums would such disputes be heard in, and what arguments would be run?
  • What unexpected issues might arise?

Robert Pé, Arbitration Chambers

Chungang Dong, Jingtian & Gongcheng
John Choong, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Olga Boltenko, Fangda Partners
Colin Ong QC, Dr Colin Ong Legal Services

10.25: Coffee break sponsored by Clyde & Co

11.00: Session two: The GAR Live Question Time

In the style of the popular BBC programme, our esteemed panel will discuss questions submitted by the audience and moderator in advance.

Sarah Grimmer, Secretary-General, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC)

Benjamin Hughes, Independent Arbitrator and Associate Professor of Law, Seoul National University
Yoshimi Ohara, Nagashima Ohno & Tsunematsu
Lucy Martinez, Independent Consultant, Counsel, and Arbitrator
Patrick Zheng, Llinks Law

12.15: Networking Lunch

13.15: A yum cha chat with George Bermann

George Bermann, Jean Monnet Professor of EU Law, Walter Gellhorn Professor of Law and Director of the Center for International Commercial and Investment Arbitration at Columbia Law School, takes his turn in the hot seat.

Matthew Gearing QC, Allen & Overy

14.00: Session three: Remedies, specific performance, interim relief

This session will discuss the extent to which there are other remedies to seek beyond damages, and whether seeking an award for specific performance or something other than compensation is productive.

Specific questions that will be discussed include:

  • How enforceable is an award of specific performance?
  • If you are seeking such a remedy does that change the approach to a case, and how?
  • Interim awards in Asia – what works, and what doesn’t?

David Rivkin, Debevoise & Plimpton

Cedric Chao, DLA Piper
Peter Hirst, Clyde & Co
Louise Stoupe, Morrison & Foerster
Karen Gough, 39 Essex Chambers

15.00: Coffee break sponsored by Clyde & Co

15.30: Session four: The GAR Live Inquisition – is it time to align the fees of law firms and tribunals?

This session will replicate a US senate committee hearing with a succession of witnesses being ‘grilled' by a panel of GAR Live inquisitors.

The committee will examine whether the financial interests of counsel and arbitrators are sufficiently aligned and whether certain problems that have developed would be resolved if their interests were more aligned.

Is it time for firms to be paid ad valorem, when arbitrators are?

Issues the panel are likely to explore include:

  • Where does the responsibility for making things more cost- and time-efficient lie? With arbitrators, or counsel?
  • Do problems arise when the resources at the disposal of arbitrators and the law firms in a case are mismatched?
  • Do cases go better when counsel and arbitrators are being paid on the same principle?
  • What is the role of tribunal secretaries in assisting tribunals that are under-resourced?
  • Can the financial interests of parties, counsel and arbitrators ever be truly aligned, or does the client always, inevitably, lose out?

Bernard Hanotiau, Hanotiau & van den Berg
Lord Goldsmith QC, Debevoise & Plimpton
Melanie van Leeuwen, Derains & Gharavi

Chiann Bao, Arbitration Chambers
Simon Chapman, Herbert Smith Freehills
Nils Eliasson, Shearman & Sterling
James Spigelman AC QC, One Essex Court 

16.30 Chairs’ closing remarks

Sarah Grimmer, Secretary-General, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC)
Robert Pé, Arbitration Chambers

16.35 onwards: All delegates are invited to attend a drinks reception kindly hosted by Warde


Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre, 38th Floor, Two Exchange Square, 8 Connaught Place, Hong Kong

Ticket prices

Private Practitioner
Type Price Until
Super Early £350  21 Sep 2018
Early £500 19 Oct 2018
Standard £600 1 Nov 2018


Complimentary In-house/governmental registration available