P.R.I.M.E. Finance Conference 2019

Kristy Tillman, executive director at P.R.I.M.E. Finance discusses P.R.I.M.E. Finance’s key achievements in 2018, plans for 2019 and the main issues discussed at the P.R.I.M.E. Finance conference 2019. 

What have been P.R.I.M.E. Finance’s key achievements in 2018?

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 have expanded our Panel of Experts with 23 new appointments We now have more than 180 internationally recognised finance and dispute resolution experts on our panel. These experts come from 30 countries across the globe, and we are continuing to expand both in number and countries represented.

Second, as you know in 2018, we launched a unique database and innovative research tool resulting from a multi-year collaboration with LexisNexis and designed to facilitate the work of our experts and the judges we train. This tool will no doubt aid their efforts to resolve financial market disputes. Third, we added a new conference in New York in October 2018 to further our reach and impact. We also continued our special judicial training program by training judges in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Shanghai in complex financial instruments and standard documentation.

And finally, in December 2018, three P.R.I.M.E. Finance Experts, Jeff Golden, Professor Charles Whitehead and Andy Brindle handled an expedited arbitration as an External Review Panel as part of the ISDA Determinations Committee process. The question was presented to the Panel on 6 December 2018; briefs were submitted on Wednesday, 12 December 2018, and supplemental briefs were submitted on Tuesday, 18 December; oral argument was held on 19 December 2018. The Panel issued its decision that day, and produced a seven-page written decision on 21 December 2018.

This matter demonstrates the incredible efficiencies that can be achieved with P.R.I.M.E. Finance Experts. With hundreds of millions of dollars on the line, the total administrative costs—including the fees of the arbitrators—were less than $50,000. This simply could not have been achieved without specialist arbitrators (in this case combining lay, legal and academic expertise) who could be quickly identified and mobilised and who had a deep appreciation of the context in which the dispute arose.

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

This event is really a reporting out event for our experts. 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. This year, H.E. Sir David Baragwanath KNZM (Judge, Special Tribunal for Lebanon) opened our conference. He was followed by Ms. Saskia Bruines (Deputy Mayor of The Hague), who presented commemorative awards to P.R.I.M.E. Finance Chair Jeffrey Golden and Treasurer Willem Calkoen in recognition of their service to both P.R.I.M.E. Finance and the Municipality of The Hague.

Other notable conference speakers include the Honourable Philip Wood CBE, Professor Sir William Blair, Sir Robert Hildyard, the Honourable Judge Elizabeth Stong, and the Honourable Charles N Brower.

This year, we had a record number of attendees over the course of two days and a number of first time registrants who travelled from all across the globe—as far as Japan, Singapore, India, and the African continent, which is a testament to the growing influence of and interest in P.R.I.M.E. Finance.

What were the main issues discussed in the 2019 conference?

Brexit’s implications for financial markets

Like last year, Brexit loomed large over this year’s conference. The Honourable Philip Wood opened this panel discussion with a presentation titled ‘Why English Law.’ This was followed by discussion moderated by Robin Dicker QC on the potential impact that various Brexit scenarios will have on the world’s financial markets. As you can imagine, with the current state of negotiations, the panel had more questions than answers.

Benchmark no more—the case of the disappearing IBORs

This was another topic that we had considered in prior years, but it remains incredibly important to financial markets. Benchmarks such as LIBOR and other IBORs were, like any standard, once considered immutable. Yet we stand three years from their likely disappearance, the effects of which will be sweeping. The panel considered the economic and legal issues involved, as well as the potential for disputes arising out of the pending changes.

Post-post-crisis—new trends in financial litigation

Although most of the litigation relating to the Lehman bankruptcy has been resolved, financial litigation continues, with a focus on a new set of legal issues, such as hedging and index transactions and public counterparty credit risk, and procedural issues, such as forum selection and use of experts. This was a truly international panel. Antoine Maffei moderated the discussion and presented the French perspective, while Jay Tambe discussed the US perspective. Massamiliano Danusso presented cases from both Italy and the UK. We were very fortunate to have Chudozi Okongwu give an economists perspective on several of the cases presented. This panel also very clearly highlighted what is so special about P.R.I.M.E. Finance, as we had a number of people in the audience were heavily involved in some of the litigations discussed, including Sir William Blair, Robin Dicker QC, Rick Grove, and Judith Gill QC.

New courts on the rise—commercial courts across the world

P.R.I.M.E. Finance has long maintained that financial disputes can benefit from specialised adjudication and view this as a positive development. Since P.R.I.M.E. Finance opened its doors in 2012, a number of jurisdictions in Europe and beyond have developed specialised commercial courts. Judges from the United Kingdom, Germany, France and the Netherlands appeared in this featured panel discussing the expanded use of domestic commercial courts across the European Union as well as the changes in the legal landscape that have encouraged certain countries to develop these courts. Judge Elizabeth Stong also provided the US perspective by discussing the important work of the US Bankruptcy Courts. The panel also addressed the positive impact that specialised jurists, experts and rules can bring to the administration of justice and highlight opportunities for collaboration with P.R.I.M.E. Finance.

Along the road—interim measures in financial arbitration

A satisfactory arbitral award is every counsel’s goal for their client, but to achieve that goal careful consideration must be given to many interim steps along the way. This panel of arbitrators and counsel focused on how modern arbitration jurisprudence is evolving to allow for these provisional measures in both contract-based and treaty-based arbitration of financial disputes. We were delighted to have the Honourable Charles Brower participate on this panel and provide additional historical and practical insights.

The not so hidden reality of cryptocurrencies—regulatory enforcement and litigation

Although ‘crypto’ comes from the Greek for hidden, this panel did its best to demystify cryptocurrencies through a lively discussion. Indeed, even though crypto assets seem like the new, new thing, regulators and courts still have a variety of tools to ensure they are properly marketed and traded.

What are P.R.I.M.E. Finance’s aims for 2019 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; right now we are involved in planning sessions for Ghana, Sweden and Korea. We expect to hold another conference in New York in the fall, and may look to adding additional 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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