CIArb London YMG - Cross-Examination Masterclass event

Young Members Group of the CIArb London Branch held an in-person "Cross-Examination Masterclass", hosted by Taylor Wessing LLP.

Posted 24th Nov, 2022

On Monday, 31 October 2022, the Young Members Group of the CIArb London Branch held an in-person "Cross-Examination Masterclass", hosted by Taylor Wessing LLP. The session provided a thrilling opportunity to watch two mock cross-examinations of factual witnesses, followed by a short discussion amongst the speakers. The fictional arbitration of Jesse Dean v King Properties International Limited concerned a dispute focusing on the claimant’s entitlement to a bonus payment for successfully securing the sale of a property to a third party on the respondent’s behalf and involved legal issues including implied terms, reliance and misrepresentation.

The cross-examinations were conducted in front of Sir Bernard Rix presiding as the "sole arbitrator". Rachael O’Grady (Partner at Mayer Brown) conducted the first cross-examination for the respondent, with Aleks Valkov (Associate at Stewarts) in the hot seat playing the role of the claimant's testifying witness. Alejandro Garcia (Partner at Stewarts) then conducted the second cross-examination for the claimant, with Michelle George (Senior Associate at Taylor Wessing) facing questions in the role as the respondent's testifying witness.

Rachael and Alejandro showcased a high level of skill, conducting cross-examinations which were targeted and succinct with both of them successfully achieving a number of important concessions from each witness. Both Aleks and Michelle were able to deal with tricky questions about their background, their recollection of certain disputed facts, and the exhibits of their witness statements.

Following the cross-examinations, Sir Bernard provided some words of wisdom drawn from his own experience as both an advocate, judge, and arbitrator. Amongst other tips, Sir Bernard observed that counsel's approach in cross will often be informed by the legal case being advanced. He also advised that when preparing cross examination, counsel should always be mindful of a number of factors including: the personality of the witness, the legal case and the merits. That said, he cautioned that sometimes cross-examiners are "willing to wound but afraid to strike"!

An interesting Q&A session closed the evening.

Given the nature of the event, no recording is available.

Reported by Mark McMahon, CIArb London Branch YMG Committee Member

From left to right: Michelle George, Rachael O'Grady, Sir Bernard Rix, Alejandro Garcia, and Aleks Valkov

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