On 20 April 2023, more than 100 participants and guests of honor, experts in the field of arbitration, gathered in Luxembourg participate in the first joint event of the BeNeLux Arbitration and ADR group held at the Chamber of Commerce premises.
The group was created on 8 September 2022, following a cooperation agreement signed by the Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI), the Belgian Center for Arbitration and Mediation (CEPANI), the Chamber of Commerce of the Grand Duchy, the Dutch Arbitration Association (DAA), and the Luxembourg Association of Arbitration (LAA) to strengthen and promote arbitration and other alternative dispute resolution mechanisms in the BeNeLux region.
This first conference was an opportunity to present the advantages of arbitration in the BeNeLux region and to discuss the future of this cooperation to promote arbitration in the region. The topic is particularly relevant for the Grand Duchy in light of the promulgation of the reform of the law on arbitration, namely « the law of 19 April 2023, amending the second part, book III, title I, of the New Code of Civil Procedure, with a view of reforming arbitration », which came into effect on 25 April 2023.
The conference began with welcoming speeches by Anne-Sophie Theissen, Secretary-General of the Arbitration Center of the Chamber of Commerce of Luxembourg, and André Prüm, President of the Luxembourg Association of Arbitration and Professor at the University of Luxembourg. They were followed by introductory remarks from Maxime Berlingin, President of the BeNeLux Arbitration and ADR group, and Estelle Brisson, Communication Manager of LAA.
In his keynote speech, Filip de Ly, Professor at Erasmus University (Rotterdam) and President of the International Commercial Arbitration Commission of the International Law Association, addressed the advantages and challenges of arbitration in the region through a comparative prism.
Filip de Ly’s presentation was followed by a more in-depth discussion of the issue at a first panel, moderated by Jan Schaefer (partner at King & Spalding, Frankfurt). Experts from each of the BeNeLux countries, namely Camilla Perera-de Wit (Secretary-General/Managing Director of the Netherlands Arbitration Institute, Rotterdam), Rogier Schellaars (partner at Van Doorne, Amsterdam), Maarten Draye (partner at Hanotiau & van den Berg, Brussels), Vanessa Foncke (partner at Jones Day, Brussels), Laure-Hélène Gaicio-Fievez (partner at BSP, Luxembourg), and Nicolina Bordian (legal advisor at the Arbitration Center of the Chamber of Commerce of the Grand Duchy), discussed the most important considerations to take into account when choosing an arbitration seat in the BeNeLux. Jan Shcaefer also involved the audience with interactive votes to gather their opinions on the discussion.
In the afternoon, the Minister of Justice of the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Sam Tanson, was welcomed by the Director-General of the Chamber of Commerce. In her speech, the Minister expressed her support for the development of arbitration while emphasising the importance of legislation on arbitration that ensures the efficiency of this process while protecting the rights of the parties concerned.
The second session discussed the essential tips to know before enforcing an arbitral award in the BeNeLux, with contributions from Mirjam van de Hel-Koedoot (partner at NautaDutilh, Amsterdam), Hakim Boularbah (partner at Loyens & Loeff, Brussels and professor at the University of Liège), and Clara Mara-Marhuenda (partner at Arendt & Medernach, Luxembourg), and moderated by Hilde van der Baan (partner at Allen & Overy, Amsterdam). The topic generated enthusiastic participation from members of the public who intervened both to ask questions and to share their feedback on this issue.
The last session, moderated by Maxime Berlingin, proposed a discussion on the potential benefits of a uniform arbitration law and/or a single arbitration court for the BeNeLux arbitration community, with contributions from Gerard Meijer (president of the Netherlands Arbitration Institute, partner at Linklaters, Amsterdam, and professor at Erasmus University, Rotterdam), Françoise Lefèvre (partner at Lefèvre Arbitration, Brussels, and member of the ICC Arbitration Court), and Elisabeth Omes (partner at Elvinger Hoss Prussen, Luxembourg). Enriching debates were animated by interactive votes on the solutions envisaged by the speakers as well as by insightful comments from members of the public.
The conference concluded with key take aways from André Prüm and was followed by wine tasting and dinner in the vineyards of the Luxembourgish Moselle.
The Chamber of Commerce, through its Arbitration Centre, is pleased to have hosted this great meeting, which allowed participants to better understand the peculiarities of arbitration in the BeNeLux region and to discuss the possibility of harmonizsing arbitration legislation in the region. The various speakers offered an engaging perspective on the advantages and challenges of arbitration in the three jurisdictions and enabled participants to actively exchange ideas and experiences on the subject.