Harmony Admist Disharmony

We live in a fast‐moving world of abbreviations and contractions. “International Commercial Arbitration” has been shortened and is now known by the acronym ICA. Once simply characterized as “a device designed to enmesh the legal system with the justice of the case”, it has now become a complicated overburdened activity with too much law, too little justice, too much rhetoric and too little reform. Several years ago, the community practising international commercial arbitration was advised to avoid “the fate of the dinosaur” with Sir Michael Mustill (later Lord Mustill) adding: “Nobody has yet discovered why the dinosaurs became extinct, but it is a reasonable surmise that their bulk was a significant factor. It would be a pity if arbitration went the same way. This is unlikely to happen, but it is at least worth asking whether a course of slimming might be in order.” General Charles de Gaulle (president of France from 1959 to 1969) was also a master of the spoken word. What he once said (in French) was equally eloquent in English: “One must not confuse the light breezes of fashion with the winds of history.” In the sphere of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), “the winds of history” have been traditionally with arbitration. But the practice of, and experimentation in, new forms of dispute resolution (particularly in the first two decades of the 21st century), shows that the winds of history are a‐changing!

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