The Global Pound Conference (“GPC”) Series is an ambitious project that has never been attempted before. Using information technology and a range of data-collection methods ranging from multiple choice questions to open text comments and word clouds, the Series seeks to commemorate the 40th anniversary of the original Pound Conference, which took place in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1976. Entitled “Perspectives on Justice in the Future (Proceedings of the National Conference on the Causes of Popular Dissatisfaction with the Administration of Justice,” the original event named after Dean Roscoe Pound identified problems with US litigation in the 20th century and ways to improve access to all forms of justice in that country. It led to real and substantive changes, which many people claim opened the way to alternative forms of dispute resolution and the concept of a “multi-door” courthouse that offers a broader range of dispute resolution services.
The GPC Series is an unprecedented attempt to broaden this discussion in the 21st century, focusing on commercial dispute resolution. It seeks to generate actionable and reliable data on what gaps currently appear to exist between what users of dispute resolution services want and what advice, services and incentives exist. Bringing together parties, their advisors, providers of dispute resolution services (both adjudicative and non-adjudicative) together with miscellaneous influencers, such as academics, government officials and policy advisory around the globe, the GPC Series is meant to gather and analyse causes of dissatisfaction and opportunities for improvement for all forms of dispute resolution services that exist today, ranging from litigation and arbitration to mediation, conciliation and mixed modes of dispute resolution.
When we were first commissioned by the International Mediation Institute (IMI) to set up the Series, we were operating without a clear compass. Was the goal to primarily stimulate discussion between all stakeholder groups, or to collect reliable statistics? Should our focus be on domestic or cross-border disputes, and to what extent should we focus on commercial disputes as opposed to civil disputes? Did we have any hypotheses we wanted to test, other than whether there may be gaps between what users of dispute resolution services wanted, and what was being supplied and recommended? With the help of colleagues from all disciplines and following consultations with dispute resolution professionals from around the world, we were able to design a series of 20 core multiple choice questions, broken down into four sessions: (1) what do parties need, want and expect (the “demand” side) ; (2) satisfaction with the services currently offered (the “supply” side); (3) what gaps and obstacles may exist to better align supply and demand; and (4) who can do what about making these improvements and when. Resolution Resources in Australia, and the two authors of this first GPC Series report, Emma-May Litchfield and Danielle Hutchinson, played a crucial role in helping us to design these questions and to get our bearings, as well as to expand our thinking. They enabled us to collect data about all facets of modern dispute resolution, while stimulating constructive critical discussion using a software application designed by PowerVote to gather and provide a unique database of qualitative and empirical responses, which is now available to the GPC’s Academic Committee and will soon be available to all stakeholders interested in improving dispute resolution services and access to justice around the world.
Singapore was the first of approximately 40 cities to organize a GPC event. It was the pioneer in hosting the first event in March 2016, and together with Herbert Smith Freehills fostered and sponsored the GPC Series as a Diamond Founder Sponsor. This report provides fascinating insights into the type and quality of data that each GPC event will be able to generate. It shows not only what gaps exist locally between different stakeholder groups and how “supply” and “demand” continue to be partially unaligned, but how this can be improved. Singapore also seems to reflect international trends, given its domestic and international vision. The Singapore GPC report identifies some big gaps that exist between parties and their advisors, and what priorities can be taken into consideration when initiating a process. Should courts, arbitrators and mediators assume that parties and their counsel have a clear sense of what process they want when they initiate dispute resolution proceedings, or do they prefer in fact to obtain guidance and tailored or bespoke processes that are about designing and implementing the most appropriate process to suit each case? Singapore suggests that the latter is needed. Coining the concept of “Appropriate Dispute Resolution”, Chief Justice Menon of Singapore in the opening ceremony to the GPC Series made it clear that “ADR” is not about what is “alternative” to traditional justice, but how justice can evolve to provide whatever is most “appropriate” in each case.
The data contained in this first GPC report raises many questions about why adjudicative processes are so seldom used in combination with non-adjudicative processes (a concept all stakeholders supported), and how parties can be better assisted to adapt their processes for resolving disputes to their needs, deadlines, budgets and priorities – especially for small and medium-sized enterprises or inexperienced parties, but also for large multinationals and sophisticated disputants. The results from the Singapore event are not only a testimony to the leadership that exists in that country when it comes to shaping the future of dispute resolution and improving access to justice, but also to how there is still desire and room for improvement, which the Singapore International Dispute Resolution Academy (SIDRA) intends to share with the rest of the world. This report contains some big surprises as well as some expected gaps. It affirms the quality of the data collected at the first GPC event, and the potential of the entire GPC Series. It already contains many lessons and recommendations that can benefit not only the Singaporean dispute resolution community, but all stakeholders involved in dispute resolutions services worldwide. The conclusions of this report are a “must read” for all professionals involved in commercial dispute resolution processes today.
We are indebted to our colleagues, to our sponsors, and to our partners in making this project possible, and we are particularly grateful to the authors of this report for helping to guide us to this point and in issuing this first GPC report which gives a flavor not only of what happened during the opening event in Singapore, but also what lies ahead. We look forward to comparing the data gathered from this first event with the final report that will be published after the GPC Series has been completed. In the meantime, we hope you will enjoy reading this document as much as we have, and we renew our thanks to Emma-May, Danielle and the entire Academic Committee of the GPC for making this journey possible.
Season’s greetings and best wishes for 2017,
Chair of the GPC Series
Coordinator the GPC Series
December 19, 2016
This Report provides an in-depth analysis of data gathered at the Singapore GPC event, which kicked off the Series that will eventually bring together data from over 30 countries in a final Report scheduled for release in the first quarter of 2018. The purpose of the Series is to stimulate conversations, at a local and also global level, about the state of access to justice in commercial disputes and how this could be improved.
The Singapore data already confirms what became evident from the data collected at the ‘Shaping the Future of International Dispute Resolution’ conference held at Guildhall, London in 2014 (learn more
) namely, that there are significant gaps in the expectations and needs of users and other stakeholders as far as the resolution of commercial disputes are concerned.
While all care was taken to ensure the integrity of the data gathering process and rigour in the formulation of the survey questions and the analysis in this Report, the Series is not intended to be primarily an academic project nor does the data gathering process represent a pure data collection environment. Any use of the GPC data must therefore be undertaken with these limitations in mind. It is hoped, however, that the information contained in this Report, together with the voting results from other GPC venues will trigger collective reflection by disputants, their advisors and providers of commercial dispute resolution services about the extent to which the needs of parties to such disputes are being met, not only in those jurisdictions for which becomes available, but globally as well.
Prof. Dr. Barney Jordaan
Chair of Academic Committee