P.R.I.M.E. Finance conference 2018

Kristy Tillman, executive director at P.R.I.M.E. Finance discusses P.R.I.M.E. Finance’s key achievements in 2017, plans for 2018 and the main issues discussed at the P.R.I.M.E. Finance conference 2018.

What have been P.R.I.M.E. Finance’s key achievements in 2017?

We have had a number of successes this year at P.R.I.M.E. Finance.

First, we have increased the size and scope of our Expert Panel. We now have 159 internationally recognized finance and dispute resolution experts on our panel. These experts come from twenty-nine countries across the globe, and we are continuing to expand both in number and countries represented.

Second, we finalised our agreement with LexisNexis to launch a first-of-its-kind case law database that will provide P.R.I.M.E. Finance Experts and the judges we train access to complex financial cases from multiple jurisdictions, as well as to the Lexis Banking & Finance and Arbitration PSL products.

Third, we continued to see the uptake of the P.R.I.M.E. Finance/PCA arbitration clause in agreements by market actors.

Finally, we continued our special judicial training program by training judges in Taiwan and Australia in complex financial instruments and standard documentation. As a result, we have now trained judges on 18 occasions in 11 countries and 5 continents.

What did P.R.I.M.E. Finance set out to achieve in its annual conference?

Each year we aim to share knowledge and think creatively about ways in which P.R.I.M.E. Finance can help advance legal certainty in financial markets and ensure fair outcomes when disputes arise. Now in its seventh iteration, we wanted this year's conference to fully represent the breadth and scope of our experts' knowledge and talent. And, each year, we try to improve upon the prior year's conference. This year, we certainly accomplished these goals. First, we were extraordinarily lucky to have two renowned key note speakers, one for each day of the conference. On the first day, The Rt. Hon. Lord Briggs of Westbourne, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom gave an address titled, ‘Dispute Resolution in Uncertain Times,’ which was his first address since his appointment to the Supreme Court. On the second day of the conference, Philip Wood CBE, QC (hon), presented an address titled ‘What Do We Now About the World's Legal System.’

Beyond the keynotes, we had so many proposed panels that we added smaller, break-out sessions to the conference. These worked really well. In fact, we will likely increase the number of breakout sessions next year, as we had very good feedback on the smaller format sessions. We also hosted a training session for young lawyers with Young ICCA (International Council for Commercial Arbitration), which took place on the second day of the conference. This was special because it attracted a new generation of lawyers to our conference. Overall, we had 350 registrants, and 43 sponsors for the conference, both of which were record numbers for us.

What were the main issues discussed in the 2018 conference?

Complex financial transactions in the courts: recent developments in the law, litigation and ADR from across the globe

The Hon. Judge Elizabeth Stong moderated this first plenary panel of the conference. She opened the discussion by highlighting the importance of time efficiency especially in restructuring and insolvency cases. The panelists (all current or former judges) also discussed the role of alternative dispute resolution in financial cases and recent developments of financial regulation in the EU, with special attention to the oversight of the ECB and ECJ. The speakers discussed the increasingly important role of mediation in cross border cases involving legal and economic uncertainty as well as large amounts of stakeholders with conflicting interests. Regarding emerging markets and investor state arbitration, speakers discussed a number of cases which bring into question the definition of an investment and the resulting conflict between private and public law. Finally, the panel addressed the implications of Brexit with regards to potential conflicts between the UK and the ECJ on matters of EU law arising from the UK’s withdrawal from the EEA.

EU-UK legal & financial bridges post-Brexit

Almost two years after the referendum which invoked Article 50 of the European Communities Act, many issues arising from Brexit are still largely unclear. Luc Frieden, former Minister of Finance of Luxemburg, opened the session and highlighted some of the current debates such as the issue of UK based Financial Services firms’ attempt to maintain their passporting rights in the EU. A key issue in this debate will be that of equivalence of EU regulation and UK regulation, the sine qua non condition to gain access to the single market. Speakers discussed the potential outcomes of the UK Withdrawal bill (or Standstill) which effectively transposes all EU law to UK law on a temporary basis to ensure continuity throughout the exiting procedure.

Developments in Sovereign Finance: A role for P.R.I.M.E. Finance experts

As the extraordinary monetary policies pursued by central banks since 2008 begin to unwind, and as countries that benefited from debt relief become newly indebted, the potential need for sovereign debt restructuring grows, as does the likelihood of the emergence of disputes in which P.R.I.M.E. Finance could be involved.

The EU, US and Japan have introduced or are introducing legislation to make financial markets safer and more transparent to investors. These new regulatory frameworks are designed protect retail investors in particular and foster confidence in the markets. Speakers addressed the growing concerns that such reforms could have the adverse effect of leading trading to a standstill and hinder economic growth as a result. The speakers noted that the US was very quick to enact reforms following the financial crisis, whereas the EU has taken much longer to enact reforms. This has resulted in the US reconsidering some regulation at a time where the EU is still rolling out its regulations. The speakers noted the importance of communication among regulators across borders during these changing times and the role P.R.I.M.E. Finance Experts can play in educating regulators.

LIBOR transition and alternative reference rates

Joanna Perkins of the Financial Markets Law Committee chaired this panel, which examined the transition away from LIBOR to alternative reference rates. This panel considered the ‘risk free rates’ that have been identified in London, New York and Zurich and their uptake in new agreements. The panel also discussed the risks and considerations of transitioning legacy rate transactions to the new alternatives and the potential role P.R.I.M.E. Finance experts could play in those transitions.

Eruption of disruption: the FinTech future

Former ISDA CEO Robert Pickel moderated this panel, which looked beyond the headlines about bitcoin and initial coin offerings to smart contracts and distributed ledger technology. The speakers examined both the promises and pitfalls that the future of FinTech will bring when trust and intermediaries are replaced by computer codes.

Sustainable development and emerging markets

Peter Werner of ISDA moderated this panel, which examined the question of whether derivatives and other financial products can help bridge the gap that compromises sustainable development in emerging markets. The speakers also examined the role capital markets play in sustainable development and the connection between Islamic finance and the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

What are P.R.I.M.E. Finance’s aims for 2018 and beyond?

As noted at the beginning, we want to continue to expand our Expert Panel to new regions of the globe. We also want to continue to support judicial systems through our unique judicial training program. As far as we are able to determine, no one else provides the type of training that we do. It is quite special. We are also exploring hosting additional conferences in other cities. But most importantly, we want to continue to progress our work in complex financial dispute resolution. We will do this by continuing to encourage parties to use the P.R.I.M.E. Finance/PCA arbitration clause in their agreements and bring cases to the PCA under the P.R.I.M.E. Finance Rules. Beyond alternative dispute resolution, we expect to continue to see our P.R.I.M.E. Finance experts continue to play important roles as expert witnesses in litigations and investigations across the globe.

Interviewed by Emma Millington

The views expressed by our Legal Analysis interviewees are not necessarily those of the proprietor.

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