Wednesday, 23 October 2019, Hong Kong

E-mail Tel: +44 203 780 4137


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.

Juliet Blanch

Arbitration Chambers

Juliet Blanch is a full time arbitrator having previously chaired the international dispute resolution practice at Weil, Gotshal & Manges. She has over 30 years’ experience in the arbitration of both international commercial and investment treaty disputes with a particular focus on energy and infrastructure, mining, commodities, telecommunications, pharmaceutical, hospitality, maritime and shareholder disputes. Juliet has acted as lead Counsel and/or sat as arbitrator in arbitrations held under HKIAC, ICC, ICSID, LCIA, LMAA, SCC, SIAC, UNCITRAL and other rules and which have been seated in a variety of jurisdictions including London, Hong Kong, Paris, Singapore, Stockholm, Washington DC and Zurich.

2018 Programme

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

Further information

For further information or sponsorship opportunities, please call +44 203 780 4137 or email


Hong Kong


  • "Very informative, practical insights" Gary Gao, Zhong Lun Law Firm

  • "Excellent" Xianglin Chen, Han Kun Law Offices