The litigation centre of a decentralised world

Published on: 05/02/2021

Even in an online era, London is still the home of dispute resolution, writes Tobias Sansome of Byfield Consultancy.

The inaugural London International Disputes Week (LIDW) in 2019 was an overwhelming success, not only for the attendees and hosts, but for London as a whole. With over 1,100 registrations from 47 jurisdictions around the world, the event – which provided a forum for discussion on the future of international litigation and arbitration – showcased London’s wealth of experience in legal affairs; and entrenched the capital’s position as the international centre of dispute resolution.

Virtual and remote 

As remote working; Zoom meetings; and virtual conferences have all become the norm in a post-outbreak world, one could be forgiven for assuming that London’s eminence as the centre of international dispute resolution might wane. One of the many major appeals of negotiating in London has been that international disputing parties often have offices based in the capital, and the proximity of competing offices and legal firms has proved extremely useful in facilitating resolution. In addition to this, London remains one of the global hubs for businesses of all sectors; ranging from financial services to international shipping. As a direct result of this, many corporations will choose to base their General Counsel in the capital, due to the proximity with clients and competitors, as well as with supporting law firms. London’s status as a global trade hub – in tandem with its highly developed, litigation focused legal sector – have made it the global centre of dispute resolution.

London as a central hub

However, in the post-outbreak world it has been suggested that these geo-political factors have been negated by the widespread acceptance of remote meetings. After all, if you can patch into a legal meeting from around the world, is there a need for a London based legal firm? The answer – counterintuitively – is a resounding ‘yes!’. As the world becomes increasingly interconnected; international clients are now better positioned than ever to be able to engage in dialogue with a London firm. Whilst the convenience of a centralised legal sector adjacent to a trade hub was certainly one of the myriad reasons to seek resolution in London, the primary reason has always been the wealth of talent found in London’s legal firms, and the depth of experience that many of these firms have in dealing with complex litigation. Consequently, the ‘remote revolution’ is expected to bring more clients to the capital in the coming years, as the ability to communicate and co-operate at great distances increases.

LIDW21

The virtual event, which will take place between 10-14 May 2021, will be comprised of a week-long conference, accompanied by a series of events organised by LIDW members. LIDW21 will provide a forward-thinking forum for discussion on the future of international dispute resolution and solidifying the capital’s presence as the de-facto centre of international litigation – even in the decentralised digital world.