Edinburgh has been centre of the international stage recently.
Its famous international arts festivals had scarcely come to a close at the end of August when the world received the sad news of the passing of HM Queen Elizabeth II, and saw Edinburgh play an important role in the late monarch's final journey.
Fast forward to this week and Edinburgh has been hosting the biennial International Congress of International Arbitration (ICCA), the largest regular gathering of dispute resolution experts worldwide.
As an official sponsor, Brodies was proud to support the conference, which saw hundreds of experts in international arbitration and beyond gather in the capital.
It was a particular pleasure to host a breakfast seminar with our good friends Herbert Smith Freehills at our new Edinburgh office (just a stone's throw from the Edinburgh International Conference Centre) with its iconic views of the famous castle,a bonus feature that is not always available to our visitors, if our Head of Litigation, Stephen Goldie is to be believed.
Lord Clark opened the session with an engaging talk which traced arbitration's long history in Scotland right up to the present day. He touched on one of the recurring themes of ICCA 2022 and the last few days: enlightened thinking and Scotland's important historical contribution to international knowledge and society during the Enlightenment. Edinburgh, we learned, is no newcomer to the international stage.
Voltaire, Lord Clark reminded attendees, once said that "we look to Scotland for all our ideas of civilisation". Edinburgh, attendees learned, was known as a "hotbed of genius".
Arbitration has been a part of Scotland's unique legal landscape since at least mediaeval times. Why is this unique? Well, because Scotland's legal system is a distinctive blend of Roman law (in the civil law tradition seen in many countries around the world) and common law (in the English law tradition).
This idiosyncracy of Scotland's legal system was another recurring theme. Scotland is not just a place familiar with arbitration, but it is also a place well-suited to arbitration. Scotland's legal tradition is one which blends the civil law with the common law. Where, we were being asked to contemplate, could be a more suitable place to conduct international arbitration?
In the lively panel discussion, which followed Lord Clark's talk, chaired by our international arbitration lead, Ken MacDonald, the different approaches of common law/civil law systems to collaboration in international arbitration were explored by Professor Maxi Scherer, Craig Tevendale, David Parratt KC and Duarte Henriques. We were invited to consider tribunal techniques for encouraging party collaboration, opportunities, and risks for parties to co-operate, including the potential for collaborative procedural measures and the disruptive effect of new technologies.
The use of technology in arbitration generated lively discussion. It was clear to the panel that technology must be embraced. That sentiment was echoed in the Lord President's closing remarks at ICCA on Wednesday afternoon.
In reflecting on the last few days, the law and practice of international arbitration will continue to evolve. Indeed, it must continue to evolve. It is also clear that it will do so through the enlightened thinking of its community.
Brodies is proud to be part of that international community.