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 PCA where she served as tribunal secretary in multiple investor-State arbitrations and was appointed registrar in several inter-State arbitrations. Prior to joining the PCA, Sarah served for three years as Assistant Counsel at the ICC International Court of Arbitration in Paris. She was also a member of the international arbitration group at Shearman & Sterling LLP in Paris, prior to which she worked in private practice in Auckland. In 2015, Sarah was appointed to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon Disciplinary Board. She is a member of the ICCA-ASIL Task Force on Damages (2016), ICCA Publications Committee (2015), the IBA Investment Arbitration Subcommittee (2014), New Zealand ICC Arbitration Committee (2014), and the IBA Arb40 Steering Committee (2013). She has an LLM from Cambridge University and an LLB/BA (Criminology) from Victoria University of Wellington. She is admitted to practice law in New Zealand.

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.

Keynote Speaker

Zia Mody

AZB & Partners

Zia Mody is the Founder and Senior Partner of AZB & Partners and one of India’s foremost corporate attorneys. She is listed in the top 10 list by Fortune India (2011-2017) in its ‘India's 50 Most Powerful Women in business’ list and in 2018, she was ranked No. 1 in the same list. Zia has also been recognised as a ‘top legal practitioner’ in India by the 2018 Banking, Finance and Transactional Law Expert Guide. Zia’s abilities are recognized globally, as is reflected in her appointment as the Deputy Chairman and a Non-Executive Director of the HSBC Asia Pacific Board, a member of the World Bank Administrative Tribunal, Washington D.C. (2008-2013), and a Vice President and Member of the London Court of International Arbitration (2010-2013). Zia serves on various advisory committees of the Confederation of Indian Industry including its National Council and its committees on Corporate Governance, Financial Services, Capital Markets and Legal Services.


Olga Boltenko

Fangda Partners

Tony Dymond

Debevoise & Plimpton

Steven Finizio


Peter Hirst

Clyde & Co

Matthew Hodgson

Allen & Overy

Amani Khalifa

Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer

Swee Yen Koh


Joe Liu

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

Sharon McGahey

Blackrock Expert Services

Susan Munro

Steptoe & Johnson

Hefin Rees QC

3 Verulam Buildings

Sir Bernard Rix

Twenty Essex

Roger Stewart QC

4 New Square

May Tai

Herbert Smith Freehills

Sarah Thomas

Morrison & Foerster

Kristen Young

White & Case

Fang Zhao

Hui Zhong Law Firm


08.30: Welcome coffee and registration

09.00: Chairs' opening remarks

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

09.10: Session one: The year in review: an update on arbitration in Hong Kong and across the globe

In this session our esteemed panel will update the audience on all the must-know developments from the past year, locally and further afield.

The session is expected to cover:

  • Institutional developments in the region: changes in rules, new initiatives, and trends in caseloads
  • The most significant rulings; and important legislative developments
  • New instruments: the Singapore Convention and the Arrangement Concerning Mutual Assistance in Court-ordered Interim Measures in Aid of Arbitral Proceedings by the Courts of the Mainland and of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region
  • The new interim measures enforcement arrangement between Hong Kong and Mainland China
  • The relationship between mediation and arbitration in Asia, and the continuing trend for matters now to be taken to court or arbitration rather than settled

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

Peter Hirst, Clyde & Co
Amani Khalifa, Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer
Joe Liu, Deputy Secretary-General, Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC)
Fang Zhao, Hui Zhong Law Firm 

10.25: Coffee break

11.00: Session two: Issues with witnesses: making tactical decisions and developing strategy

This session will explore a host of challenges that arise for counsel and arbitrators when it comes to appearances by witnesses, and what courts can do to help.

In particular our panel will examine:

  • What to do when one side is being “strategic” with witnesses (withdrawing them late, failing to offer an obvious person, etc.)
  • Written direct testimony -- is there a limit to its usefulness? Is it time for direct evidence to come back into hearings? If so, should it supplement or replace written direct testimony?
  • Witnesses in politically sensitive cases -- how to secure attendance and protect against intimidation and threats
  • Lawyers who insist on appearing as witnesses
  • Expert witnesses’ use of witnesses of fact -- how reluctant are they to use them? Does contemporaneous information stand up better to scrutiny?

Juliet Blanch, Arbitration Chambers

Olga Boltenko, Fangda Partners
Tony Dymond, Debevoise & Plimpton
Matthew Hodgson, Allen & Overy
Sharon McGahey, Blackrock Expert Services
Sarah Thomas, Morrison & Foerster

12.15: Networking lunch

13.15: A yum cha chat with Zia Mody

Zia Mody, Founder and Senior Partner of AZB & Partners, takes her turn in the hot seat.

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

14.00: Session three: International arbitration in the era of tougher financial crime enforcement

In an era when financial institutions are on high alert for all suspicious transactions, and where they take the view that if in doubt, file a SARs report, is international arbitration starting to appear the irresponsible outlier? Do arbitrators and counsel take these issues and the regulations that now surround them seriously enough? Do they know what to do in the event suspicions of money-laundering, proceeds of crime, or corruption arise?

In this panel, members of the IA bar and the international white-collar crime world will discuss the airlock between their two areas and whether enough is being done to ensure that matters can move smoothly between the two.

Topics our panel are expected to discuss include:

  • How do white-collar crime specialists view the world of international arbitration and what do they worry about as things are currently organised?
  • What do IA lawyers worry about when it comes to law enforcement authorities and their interest in the written and oral evidence adduced before and during contents of the cases?
  • Is it time for proper guidance on what to do when these two areas collide?

Juliet Blanch, Arbitration Chambers

Susan Munro, Steptoe & Johnson
Hefin Rees QC, 3 Verulam Buildings
Roger Stewart QC, 4 New Square
Kristen Young, White & Case

15.15: Coffee break

15.45: Session four: The IA team of the future - greener, more diverse, and better at combining cases with family life? 

This session will discuss a series of inter-related concerns that look set to determine the composition of the IA community in the future, and whether some of the concerns now being identified can be ameliorated.

Things the next generation care about, in particular:

  • Mental and physical well-being: work-life balance. Does your jurisdiction have a word for “death by work”? Korea has recently imposed 52-hour working week. Is it possible to run international arbitration without a culture of long hours, or in organisations that span several different approaches to work-life balance?
  • The environment: Travel -- the impact on daily life, and on the planet.
  • Choices beyond the law firm: Big Law versus life as an arbitrator -- more 40 and 50-something partners are wondering if they could make it as an arbitrator, far younger than was traditionally thought possible. But is the time right?
  • Family: Being able to juggle career and family life, particularly in childcaring years; not being an absent parent who consistently prioritises work over their family

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

Steven Finizio, WilmerHale
Sir Bernard Rix, Twenty Essex
May Tai, Herbert Smith Freehills
Swee Yen Koh, WongPartnership

17.00: Chairs' closing remarks

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

17.10 onwards: All delegates are invited to attend a drinks reception kindly hosted by Morrison & Foerster

Further information

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


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


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

  • "Excellent" Xianglin Chen, Han Kun Law Offices

Ticket prices

Private Practitioner
Type Price Until
Super Early £350  18 Sep 2019
Early £500 11 Oct 2019
Standard £600 23 Oct 2019


Type Price