We know how to conduct proceedings efficiently and within economic reason. An LCIA arbitration that we recently won for a major Asian client was conducted entirely by email and fax. Our client was due to collect fuel oil from an Asian refinery but had difficulties getting the ship to the port in the contract laycan. Our client agreed to pay modest demurrage costs, but was then served with a huge claim for consequential losses that the refiner asserted our client had agreed to pay.
It soon became clear that quantifying the refiner's damages claim was going to be expensive and time consuming, as it would have involved expert evidence on refiner's processes and production methods. It was also clear that our client stood a very good chance on the issue of liability alone. We therefore proposed that the trial be split into two (or bifurcated): the first stage dealing with the issue of liability; the latter concerning quantum. If our client won on liability, the expensive issue of quantifying the refiner's claim could be avoided in its entirety. The refiner's lawyers initially resisted the idea, but conceded to our application at the last minute.
We then decided to have the preliminary issue determined on paper submissions alone, with no hearing. This was a particularly bold decision as general wisdom dictates that it is essential to have a hearing in order to ensure that every aspect of a client's case is given a thorough airing in front of the tribunal. But we considered that the advantages outweighed the risks. A skeptical client was persuaded. The panel of three eminent arbitrators embraced the idea from the start and adopted the procedure we proposed.
The partial award on liability was accompanied by detailed reasons, and gave our client a resounding victory. Our client's modest counterclaim and the issue of costs were the only remaining issues. Again, these issues were dealt with in written submissions only. From the date when the refiner's lawyers agreed to the application for a split hearing to the final award (effectively two "hearings") took only five months. We never met our opposite numbers nor the Tribunal. Not very sociable, perhaps. But very commercial.
When a dispute arises, it is imperative to develop a coherent, integrated strategy to deal with all of the challenges posed. In order to achieve this goal, we create specialized teams of lawyers and professionals specifically tailored for each case. At Reed Smith, one of the largest firms in the world, resources are never a problem. We enjoy in-house experience in almost every area of the law, every sector of industry and commerce, and in every region in the world. We draw upon experience from across the firm's international offices and a range of disciplines to create the team that is right for the case. Large or small, we staff the case sensibly in order to best serve our clients' needs in a cost-effective manner—and win!