18 May 2023

Celebrating their partnership agreement signed last year, the Permanent Arbitration Court attached to the Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (HCAC) and Jus Mundi organized a half-day conference together with the Hungarian Arbitration Association in Budapest, on 4 May 2023, with the title ‘Confidentiality and Transparency in International Arbitration’. This blog post sheds light on the background and summarises the main topics of the conference.

HCAC – Jus Mundi partnership agreement

While in the field of investor-state dispute settlement, the publication of arbitral awards and dissenting opinions is widely accepted, commercial arbitration is a different kind of creature, since one of its distinguishing characteristics is the confidential nature of dispute settlement, which is amongst the main reasons why parties choose this kind of alternative dispute settlement, instead litigating their case in front of state courts.

Leading arbitration institutions are divided in this matter. While the Arbitration Court of the ICC changed its default approach from 2019, allowing the publication of awards unless the parties expressly object to the disclosure, other institutions, like the LCIA or DIS still follow the traditional way of not publishing any awards save all parties involved in the arbitration process give express consent.

In Hungary the legislator decided this question, since the Hungarian Arbitration Act makes the obligation of the President of the Permanent Arbitration Court of the HCAC to disclose on the website of the institution the anonymized and searchable extract of arbitral awards, negative or positive jurisdictional decisions and orders terminating the arbitral proceedings, made in HCAC administered arbitrations within half year, as of the rendering of the decision.

The above legislative background made it possible for the Arbitration Court of HCAC to sign a partnership agreement with Jus Mundi on 31 August 2022, which is a trailblazing initiative in the Central Eastern European region.

Due to this partnership agreement, non-confidential arbitral awards and decisions rendered under the auspices of the Arbitration Court of HCAC can be available in English on Jus Mundi, giving wider access to Hungarian arbitration law to the global arbitration community.

Conference in Budapest

The Hungarian Arbitration Association, a non-profit organisation founded with the aim to develop the arbitration culture in Hungary, and its President, Veronika Korom played a key-role in realizing the Jus Mundi – HCAC partnership agreement.

The participants of this success story decided to organise a half-day conference on 4 May 2023 Budapest, to debate the competing principles of confidentiality and transparency in international arbitration, and such related issues like dissenting opinions or legal marketing in arbitration.

The conference was opened by Veronika Korom (ESSEC Business School), President of HAA, who recalled the background of the Jus Mundi - HCAC cooperation and presented the main topics of the conference.

János Burai-Kovács (BPSS), President of the Arbitration Court of the HCAC gave the first keynote speech. Besides summarizing the Hungarian business and legal environment around arbitration, he expressed his happiness that instead remaining a “senior male club”, arbitration in Hungary is on the way of changing in terms of age and gender diversity.

In his keynote address, Jean-Rémi de Maistre, co-founder and CEO of Jus Mundi emphasized the importance of reconciling the dichotomy of confidentiality and transparency, in order to successfully participate in the building of global rule of law through modern technology and legal expertise, which is the ‘raison d’être’ of Jus Mundi.

He also pointed out the growing number of commercial arbitral awards on Jus Mundi from 2020, the overall number of which significantly surpasses the awards rendered in inter-state and investment treaty arbitrations.

Panel discussions

The first panel, entitled Confidentiality vs. Transparency was moderated by Georgios Andriotis, director of legal publishing at Jus Mundi, the panellists were Alma Forgó (Airbus), Philippe Cavalieros (Simmons & Simmons) and Reinmar Wolff (University of Marburg). The panellists debated the pros and cons of confidentiality and transparency, and they concluded that between the two extreme positions, a reasonable compromise could be acceptable in the field of commercial arbitration.

Dissenting opinions were the subject of the second panel, moderated by Attila Berzeviczi (HCAC), with the participation of Patrizia Netal (KNOETZL), Paul Kinninmont (Freeths), and Davor Babić (University of Zagreb). The panellists concurred that dissenting opinions should be given the same treatment in terms of transparency like the award itself: in case the award is published, the dissenting opinion should be disclosed as well, to have a holistic picture of the whole arbitral proceedings.

The third panel, entitled “How to raise your profile in the arbitration world” was moderated by Richard Schmidt (SmartLegal) Board Member of HAA, the guests were Beata Gessel Kalinowska-vel Kalisz (GESSEL), Péter Köves (LKT Partners), and Sneha Ashtikar-Roy director of marketing at Jus Mundi. Besides discussing the applicability of restrictions of law firm marketing to arbitrators, and such evergreen questions of legal marketing, like content creation, personal branding, etc., it was also presented how Jus Mundi and Jus Connect can support the marketing and networking of counsels and arbitrators.

Based on the feedback of the participants, the conference was very interesting and educational, in addition, it was a great opportunity for the Hungarian arbitration community to meet with arbitration experts coming from so many jurisdictions to Budapest.