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Virtual pre-moot dramatic illustration of positive arbitration outcomes from COVID-19

Thursday, March 11, 2021 @ 10:06 AM | By Barry Leon

 Barry Leon %>
Barry Leon
While everyone is aware of the almost overnight shift to virtual and hybrid proceedings in all aspects of dispute resolution — court proceedings, arbitration and mediation — what may prove to have more dramatic and significant impact on arbitration globally is that arbitration knowledge, training, resource materials and networking is now available globally and usually without charge.

An Arbitration Place Invitational Vis Pre-Moot and accompanying five feature events that take place this weekend, March 13-14, will be a dramatic illustration of the positive outcomes on arbitration of the COVID-19 pandemic, beyond the major shift to virtual and hybrid proceedings.

Think about it.  

A person with Internet access who has an interest in arbitration, no matter where in the world she or he is located, in any developing country, has vast access almost 24/7 to arbitration knowledge, training and resource materials through webinars and webinar content posted afterwards on the websites of law firms, arbitral institutions and service providers, and on YouTube.  

Those practitioners, and many younger practitioners no matter where they are, never would have been able to attend distant — or often even local — conferences, seminars, workshops, lectures and other presentations in person.

Increasingly those events have networking opportunities — through the chat function on Zoom, for example, and more significantly, in networking breakout rooms. I believe that this may be the most significant legacy of the COVID-19 pandemic on arbitration, and I expect in numerous other fields. Location is now (almost) irrelevant, except for time zone considerations.

Arbitration Place, based in Toronto, has been able to become a leading host of virtual and hybrid proceedings in the world. It also has been able to bring together moot teams from 18 universities in Canada, the U.S., Latin America, Europe and Africa this weekend to practise their arguments for the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot. It is a non-competitive pre-moot, with each team presenting its moot arguments four times and receiving feedback from experienced arbitrators.

The Vis Moot is an international student moot competition that, pre-pandemic, was held in Vienna each year since 1994 in the week leading to Easter, with a sister moot in Hong Kong since 2003, known as the Willem C. Vis (East) Moot. Well over 300 teams would attend in Vienna and over 150 teams in Hong Kong.

These moots spurred the creation of many “pre-moots” each year.

Demonstration of positive pandemic outcomes

The Vis Pre-Moot and its five feature events will demonstrate all the positive outcomes from the pandemic to which I have referred: international arbitration learning, training and networking. And it will enable the learning available in the five events to be shared globally with anyone who registers and joins to watch on Arbitration Place’s private YouTube channel.

The five feature events

  • Opening Debate: “This House Prefers Virtual Hearings,” with Neil Kaplan for the resolution and Ian Binnie against it, moderated by Lucy Reed.
  • Keynote discussion on “Imagining the Future of International Arbitration,” with Alexander Fessas (secretary general of the ICC International Court of Arbitration) and Stephanie Cohen, moderated by David Samuels (managing editor of Global Arbitration Review).
  • Workshop on “Improving Your Virtual Presence,” with Gary Genard (the Genard Method training program).
  • ArbitralWomen workshop on “Mentoring and Sponsoring,” with Dana MacGrath (president, ArbitralWomen) and Benno Kimmelman.
  • Workshop on “Networking in a Virtual World,” with Wendy Miles, Rekha Rangachari and Barry Leon.

Information on the Arbitration Place Invitational Vis Pre-Moot and its Five Feature Events and a registration link for the Feature Events, is at

The Honourable Barry Leon is an independent arbitrator and mediator with Arbitration Place, 33 Bedford Row Chambers (London) and Caribbean Arbitrators. He was presiding judge of BVI’s Commercial Court (2015-2018) and is a former chair of ICC Canada’s Arbitration Committee.

Photo credit / Kamaga ISTOCKPHOTO.COM

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