Ask An Expert: Julian Copeman

Julian Copeman, Managing Partner of Herbert Smith Freehills’ Greater China offices, discusses dispute resolutions trends, data and the increasing role of technology in resolving disputes.

What do you hope the GPC will achieve?

The intention for Hong Kong GPC was to bring together stakeholders from across the disputes market to discuss the issues that face parties at the front line of disputes in Hong Kong, and indeed over 200 people attended on the day. We gained rich and valuable data and from that, we are hoping, will reach some real and tangible recommendations for change. 

With all the big players in the room, including the Secretary for Justice, Chief Justice and Solicitor General, I think we had a rare opportunity to discuss all forms of disputes processes with the people who use them, provide them, and those who can bring about change.

Are there any significant issues the GPC has raised so far?

The GPC events to date have highlighted divergent views on the role of lawyers. Parties are looking to lawyers to collaborate with them, whereas lawyers often see their role more as advocates for the parties. This rather traditional view needs to change as we see dispute processes evolve to be more party-centric and holistic.

What is your current role in dispute resolution?

I am a disputes lawyer, and head of our disputes practice in China, as well as the managing partner of our Greater China offices. As such, I am an adviser. I am also an accredited mediator, so I have at times donned a provider hat.

I specialise in disputes as I have always been drawn to the challenge of finding ways to resolve disputes in the most beneficial way for my clients. This led me to become an accredited mediator, as mediation as an under-used but highly valuable tool for a disputes lawyer. I deal with a wide range of large commercial disputes encompas