The London GPC – Time For Change

Last week’s London event marked the grand finale of the GPC Series, which has taken place on six continents and 29 cities since April 2016, collecting groundbreaking data on the behaviour and perceptions of stakeholders in dispute resolution across the globe. Taking place in the historical Guildhall building, built upon centuries of ‘dispute resolution’ above the Roman amphitheatre – where conflict was perhaps resolved in a more brutal way than today.

The event began with an introduction by online dispute resolution advocate Lord Justice Briggs, who has consistently pushed for technological reforms in the courts of England and Wales, especially in regards to resolving disputes. In addition Dr Andrew Parmley, Lord Mayor of London (Mayor of the City of London), gave a moving speech on London’s rich multicultural history – stating that London will remain a global city and an international hub for the legal community undeterred by Brexit.

Still in the game

It is evident that London and the rest of the UK are facing major challenges, politically, economically and socially, all of which will effect the legal community as a whole and how it interacts and competes on an international level. One thing that was clear at the GPC event, is that London is very much seeking to remain relevant, to embrace change to allow it to continue to evolve into a dynamic and efficient legal system attracting parties from all over the world. In light of the growing disputes hubs in Asia, and the Brexit negotiations, this message is particularly important.

Sitting at round tables, in true GPC style, stakeholders were able to vote and have very active discussions throughout the day, working together on word clouds and comments before the panel discussions began. The large proportion of in house lawyers present was also significant, so rarely do you get all these people in the same room. The panels discussed key trends comparing the results of the day to those of the existing global data and identifying differences.

Talking points

Alexander Oddy, Partner at Herbert Smith Freehills, who chaired the first panel of the day, picked up on a the gap in perceptions between parties and lawyers in regards to the role of lawyers when choosing different processes – which was one of the largest in the London data. This trend has been one of the major talking points of the GPC Series as a whole, emphasising  different perspectives of delegates and the importance of communication between all stakeholders and parties alike, to allow for more effective and efficient dispute resolution processes.

The second panel discussed how the market is currently addressing parties’ expectations, chaired by Dr Karl Mackie CBE, Founding President, CEDR. the panel discussed the importance of maintaining relationships but also efficiency and speed – the two factors at the top of the list among London voters. Interestingly, among users of dispute resolution, collaboration with external counsel was huge important, indicating a need for greater control and direct participation in the process. Overall there was widespread support fornon-adjudicative processes, but panellists noted that the process needs to be suited to the right case.

Session 3 looked at ways in which dispute resolution can be improved, and was chaired by Jo