The Global Pound Conference (GPC) Series 2016-17 is taking place in different locations all around the world over the next year, with the aim of facilitating the development of 21st century dispute resolution tools and finding answers to different questions in alternative dispute resolution (ADR).
The GPC Series, which officially launched in Singapore on 17-18 March, 2016, is set to hold the last scheduled event in London in July 2017. Over 25 countries worldwide have already committed to holding a GPC event with a total of 42 events and that number may still go up.
Since the Singapore launch earlier in the year, a second event took place in Lagos on 30 June and a third in Mexico City on 25 August at the Iberoamericana University – the fourth event took place in New York City yesterday. The Mexico City event was not without its challenges being the first one made on the American continent, the first one in Spanish and the first one within a civil law judicial system. Apart from the fact that it was one of the first of its kind, meaning there was a lack of experience and feedback, this was not the only significant aspect – because if you know Mexico, you know that we love the intense emotions.
Around 80 high level participants attended the Mexico City GPC, a diversity of stakeholders in dispute resolution, including lawyers, businesses, academics, judges, arbitrators, mediators, policy makers and others.
The inaugural conference was conducted by one of our Mexican Supreme Court of Justice judges, Ministro José Ramón Cossío Díaz, a clever and generous man, who introduced the event talking about access to justice and how to bring ADR to the traditional justice scenario under the paradigm of conflict resolution.
In this sense, Judge Cossio said that “new proposals exist with lower litigation quality trying to deal with human rights issues. But that is empty rhetoric. The goal is to use ADR to avoid loss of argumentative quality (…)”.
He also added that “talking about arbitration cases that reach the Supreme Court of Justice in Mexico is problematic due to the lack of a doctrine regarding the cases in which a sentence must be annulled, for instance. The problem is the uncontrolled growth in the number of appeals requesting sentence annulment that will eventually overwhelm the judicial system in Mexico, which could be resolved through ADR”.
In Mexico, we are reaching a breaking point in which it is no longer sustainable to continue to dedicate human and financial resources to the traditional judicial system. Finding other ways to resolve conflicts is crucial.
The workflow implemented at the GPC, reproduced in every GPC event, consists of four sessions, each containing ‘Core Questions’ and separating respondents into five categories: ‘users’ (e.g. business person or in-house counsel); ‘advisors’ to users (e.g. external lawyer or expert); ‘providers’ (e.g. ADR
institution, ADR neutrals); ‘educators’ (e.g. trainer/academic); and ‘other’ (e.g. judges, policy makers, legislators, regulators, etc.).
Session 1: Access to Justice & Dispute Resolution Systems: what do users want, need & expect?
From the data captured in Mexico, users express that they do not want to feel abused and that there is a general trend favouring personal relations versus damaging relations. Also, the trend is towards the pursuit of confidentiality, efficiency and enforcement of decisions made.
In addition, parties want more control of the process, they want to cooperate in it; they want a lawyer to represent them but following the guidelines set by the parties themselves.
Session 2: How is the market currently addressing parties’ wants, needs and expectations?
It was observed that what users need the most is to resolve the issue avoiding litigation. Not so much a matter of costs, but rather the ability to ‘get a hold of the issue’ and swiftly get it over with.
Session 3: How can dispute resolution be improved? (Overcoming obstacles and challenges)
A fundamental obstacle is the lack of knowledge (education) about the resources available, as well as access to ADR.
Some challenges are the implementation or consideration of incentives to promote ADR and public policy design among others.
In addition to all of the above, the main problem we face in the public sector for the implementation of ADR is the liability for public servants.
Session 4: Promoting better access to justice: What action items should be considered and by whom?
New value propositions have been envisioned for the clients – certainty, speed and efficiency. The goal for lawyers should be the resolution of the conflict rather than winning the juridical argument.
Therefore, it was concluded that new value paradigms need to be created that are not cost centres for the clients.
The following proposals were made during the event:
- To create tax incentives for companies and switch to a collaborative rather than adversarial method.
- To avoid litigation whenever possible and make sure the clients resume the normal activities rapidly – litigation destroys value, it should be the last resource.
- It must be understood that the clients business is to go back to business, not to win conflicts. Going back to business must be facilitated and a solution must be found.
The data collected in response to the core questions will be available online as each event occurs. In this sense, the high level and drive of the participants can be inferred from the data collected in Mexico, with high quality interventions and meaningful debate.
A number of conclusions are noteworthy including a series of challenges such as the incorporation of:
- Collaborative rather than adversarial processes.
- A change of the corporate attitude to prevent conflicts.
- Technological innovation.
The effort made by all participants was absolutely worth it and it can be expected to bear fruit in the mid and long term. Gratitude must be expressed to everyone who made this event possible.
The data from the Mexico City event will be available here on the 14 September.
Nuria Gonzalez-Martin is a senior researcher at the Institute for Legal Research, National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM). She has a PhD in Private International Law, Pablo de Olavide University in Seville, Spain and she is currently a Visiting Fellow at Stanford Law School (2012-2016). She previously received the Weinstein Fellowship at JAMS, San Francisco, USA (2015), and she is a member of the International Academy of Comparative Law (IACL), as well as being the General Secretary of the American Association on Private International Law (ASADIP).