Young CRCICA Forum Launch Event: The New Frontiers of Arbitrability: Expansion and Diversity

Wednesday 27 March 2019 marked the birth and official launch of the “Young CRCICA Forum” through an event entitled “The New frontiers of Arbitrability: Expansion and Diversity” hosted at the Cairo Regional Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (“CRCICA”), followed by a cocktail dinner at Hilton Cairo Zamalek Residences Hotel which was sponsored exclusively by Shahid Law Firm (Cairo).

The Young CRCICA Forum is head by its Chairman Amani Khalifa, its Vice Chairman Mohamed Hafez (Counsel and Legal Advisor to the Director, CRCICA) and Vice Chairman Abdallah El Shehaby (Attorney at Law, Egypt)., Similar to youth forums of other international arbitral institutions, Young CRCICA is open to those aged under 40 and provides a variety of opportunities for individuals to gain knowledge, develop their skills and understand arbitral procedure and other dispute resolution services. Young CRCICA will be holding a series of events and seminars that give young professionals the chance to discover and develop best practices, discuss topical issues and network with experienced practitioners.

The Young CRCICA Forum launch event “The New frontiers of Arbitrability: Expansion and Diversity” was met with a great success as it had over 115 attendees diversified with Egyptians, French, Syrians, North and Sub-Saharan Africans, Saudi Arabian and many other nationalities including amongst them legal practitioners, judges, academics, university students, engineers and many other fields.

The program of the event kicked off by an introductory speech given by Ismail Selim, the Director of CRCICA, by welcoming all the attendees to the event and emphasizing the importance of the younger generations in taking the chance to participate in the Young CRCICA Forum. By way of demonstrating such efforts, Ismail Selim introduced the signing of the MoU between CRCICA and the Faculty of Law, British University in Egypt (“BUE”), which was represented by its Dean Prof. Hassan Abdel Hamid who gave a short speech discussing the future collaboration between the Faculty of Law of BUE and CRCICA. This was followed by the signing of another MoU between CRCICA and the Faculty of Law, Cairo University, which was represented by its Dean Prof. Sabry El Senousy who in turn gave a short speech on the futuristic cooperation between the Faculty of Law, Cairo University and CRCICA in the field of arbitration.

Following the signings of the MoUs, the Chairman of the Young CRCICA Amani Khalifa gave an introductory speech officially welcoming all the attendees and emphasizing the excitement attached to the launch of Young CRCICA. As the role of the Young CRCICA Forum, aims to help and aid the younger generations the chance to participate and discuss topical issues and network with experienced practitioners which Young CRCICA shall provide in future events and conferences.

Ismail Selim then requested everyone to stand a minute of silence to mourn the loss of the prominent Arbitrator Professor Ahmed Sadek El- Kosheri who passed away on Sunday 17 March 2019 followed by this. Selim then delivered his keynote speech, where he amplified CRCICA’s role in guiding and helping the younger generations in the field of commercial arbitration and the role of arbitral institutions through periodical courses and seminars, as well as the support of CRCICA to students in participating in Moot Courts. Further, Selim mentioned that CRCICA would support the younger generations and aid them in exploring their talents for assuming arbitral justice and institutional arbitration. To turn these words into action, CRCICA has decided to launch the Together they shall be responsible for organizing future events, seminars and conferences as well as selecting the topics of discussions and speakers. Ismail Selim then moved to introducing the main topic of the event “The New frontiers of Arbitrability: Expansion and Diversity”, where he mentioned the importance of the notions of arbitrability and public policy, being at the heart of arbitration laws, how both notions are inter-related yet diversified. Also, how both notions draw the borders of arbitration and what falls under their realm against how the judiciary’s jurisdiction could be affected by them.

The event was divided into two sessions, the first session’s discussion was on “Arbitrability” and the second session’s discussion was on “Public Policy”. Mr. Abdallah El Shehaby moderated the first session and Dr. Mohamed Hafez moderated the second session. At the beginning of both of sessions, both moderators presented to the audience that they shall address a series of questions relating to the subject of the session, whereby the panelists of each session shall provide their answers and comments relating to the question raised. However, in the aim of keeping the session fully interactive, both moderators requested from the attendees to feel free to stop the panelists at any time, ask as many questions, and provide comments relating to the subject of the session at any time.

Mr. Abdallah El Shehaby moderated the first panel on Arbitrability and its panelists were Ms. Inji Fathalla (Senior Associate, Shahid Law Firm, Egypt), Mr. Fahad Al Dehais (Managing Partner, Al Dhabaan & Partners in association with Eversheds Sutherland International LLP, Saudi Arabia) and Mr. Ahmed Habib (Senior Associate, Leboulanger & Associés, France). Among the many questions raised during this session:

  • What is arbitrability or the ability to arbitrate?
  • How does the notion of arbitrability affect the investment climate and its limits?
  • How does the notion of public policy affect arbitrability and its impact on international disputes?
  • Which is the competent authority in identifying matters of public policy and arbitrability, arbitral tribunals or state courts? What if the arbitral award contradicts with court’s judgment on the same matter?
  • What is the view of Saudi Arabian courts on public policy and arbitrability? and how does this affect recognition and enforcement of foreign arbitral awards awarded against state entities?
  • How is this matter dealt with in relation to administrative contracts in Egypt? and what are their effects on direct foreign investments?
  • How does the French courts interpret public policy in light of specific matters subject to arbitrability?
  • What are the most important subjects which are debatable as to whether they are arbitrable or not in accordance with Egyptian Law?

Dr. Mohamed Hafez moderated the second panel on Public Policy and its panelists were Ms. Sally Kotb (Counsel, Baker & McKenzie (U.A.E.), Ms. Leyou Tameru (Legal Consultant and the Founder of I-Arb Africa, Ethiopia) and Mr. Mohamed Abdel Rehiem, Senior Associate, Eversheds & Sutherland, U.A.E.). Among the many questions raised during this session:

  • What is the definition of public policy under various jurisdictions, including that of the New York Convention of 1958? Can public policy ever have an expansive definition with the diverse seats of arbitration being chosen?
  • What are the types of disputes that are considered non-arbitrable on grounds of public policy under various jurisdictions? Has there been any evolution in recent years?
  • What is the role of counsel in identifying public policy issues and foreseeing public policy related matters at the very beginning of the arbitration?
  • Can an arbitral tribunal decide on a public policy issue if it is raised in an initial jurisdictional challenge (would the ‘competence competence’ principle apply where the arbitral tribunal’s jurisdiction is challenged based on a public policy issue)?
  • How has public policy been invoked in the context of enforcement of arbitration awards? Can it be used as a delay tactic or a fundamental risk regarding recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards and how to avoid it?
  • Can an arbitral award be recognized and enforced in part if it is partially in conflict with a public policy rule?

The panelists from both sessions provided their answers and comments to the above questions on arbitrability and public policy. The audience was quite lively interactive by asking many interesting questions relating to various jurisdictions on the matters of arbitrability and public policy, which the panelists were more than happy to respond to and comment on.

Finally, Ismail Selim delivered his closing remarks by thanking all the attendees for their lively participation and how the sessions were quite interactive and requesting them to be up to date with all futuristic events to be announced by the Young CRCICA Forum. Again, Ismail Selim requested everyone to stand a minute of silence to mourn the loss of Ms. Suzane Aboul Farag, CRCICA’s long serving simultaneous translator who died tragically in the very recent crash of the Ethiopian Airline Boeing.

The event was followed by a cocktail reception at the Hilton Cairo Zamalek Residences Hotel – Terrace Area by the pool where all the attendees were invited to join for social networking and to discuss topics relating to the topics of the event and the Young CRCICA Forum.

Oliver Chisenga

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