Young Members Group of the Ciarb London Branch hosted a webinar with Toby Landau KC
Posted 22nd Feb, 2023
On 13 February 2023, the Young Members Group of the Ciarb London Branch hosted a webinar during which YMG representatives Mark McMahon and Elizabeth Montpetit had the exceptional opportunity to speak with Toby Landau KC, a truly distinguished figure in the arbitration world both as counsel and arbitrator in the investor-state and commercial spheres. The event was in the style of a fire-side chat and was a wide-ranging conversation covering Mr Landau KC's illustrious career and his views on a number of different topics relating to international arbitration, a few of which are summarised below.
Starting with his earlier days while at the bar, Mr Landau KC described the valuable opportunity he had to work on drafting the Arbitration Act 1996. He also offered his views on some of the potential changes we might see in an amended version of the Act, including, amongst others, language to account for the recent Supreme Court decisions in both Haliburton and Enka v Chubb regarding arbitrator disclosures and the law of the arbitration agreement respectively.
In relation to the impact of the pandemic and virtual hearings, Mr Landau KC agreed that this has changed the dynamic for tribunals sitting in different parts of the world and perhaps never meeting in person for a hearing and/or to deliberate. Although fully agreeing that virtual hearings are certainly more sensible in many circumstances, he noted that it can be harder to build rapport amongst tribunal members during virtual proceedings.
Considering the biggest challenge facing the arbitration community today, Mr Landau KC posited that the current arbitration "model" that we are accustomed to may not be well-equipped to deal with newer and more complex types of disputes, such as those linked to climate change. The current model does not allow for the involvement of third parties, which may be necessary in some circumstances for arbitration to regain legitimacy in cases that affect others besides the parties themselves. It may therefore be time for the arbitration community to consider possible procedural solutions to adapt to these challenges, such as adopting more inquisitorial approaches; allowing a more developed system for interventions and the appointment of amicii to advise on certain issues; or perhaps moving to a standing arbitration court system.
On the topic of mentorship, Mr Landau KC suggested that it is perhaps the single most important asset for a young practitioner's career. Recalling some of his own mentors (Johnny Veeder KC and Martin Hunter, to name a few), Mr Landau KC commented on the valuable introductions that can be made by a mentor, as well as their ability to share both expertise and credit when due. While noting that some mentors are more informal, he praised the usefulness of structured mentorship programs, such as the one offered by ICCA.
When asked what he considered his biggest failure to be, Mr Landau KC regretted not having dedicated enough time to academic writing and admired others who had managed to do so in addition to having an arbitration practice.
While the conversation could have continued for far longer than an hour, Mr Landau KC's career and insights provided valuable takeaways for young arbitration practitioners: take advantage of opportunities that come your way, be proactive in finding mentors, and find some time to write and publish articles!
Counter clockwise : Mark McMahon, Toby Landau KC, Elizabeth Montpetit