Conference on Judicial Perspectives on Domestic and International Arbitration in Pakistan​

May 27, 2022

MK Consultus and CIArb Pakistan jointly held the “Judicial Perspectives on Domestic and International Arbitration in Pakistan” conference at Pearl Continental, Lahore on 27th May, 2022.


The event was graced by chief guests and key speakers, the Honorable Chief Justice Supreme Court of Pakistan Mr. Justice Umar Ata Bandial, who joined virtually, and Honourable Justices Supreme Court of Pakistan Mr. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah and Mr. justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti.


The conference commenced with welcome addresses by Catherine Dixon, Director General CIArb and Barrister Mian Sheraz Javaid, FCIArb and managing partner of MK Consultus. The attendees heard various panel discussions with distinguished foreign and Pakistani experts in the field comprising each panel.

The panel on “The role of ADR Centers and Commercial Courts in increasing foreign investors’ confidence and swift dispute resolution” included Honorable Justice Lahore High Court Mr. Justice Jawad Hasan (panel chair), Jonathan Wood, Head of International Arbitration, RPC and Chair of CIArb Board of Trustees, Toby Landau QC, Barrister & Arbitrator, Duxton Hill Chambers, Riffat Inam Butt, Secretary Law Commission Pakistan, and Taimur Malik, Partner Clyde & Co


Mr. Justice Jawad Hassan set the tone for the panel by providing the attendees with a brief recall of the journey of commercial courts and ADR Centers in Pakistan, and the developments over the years. He then moderated the discussion towards Pakistan aiming for more achievable goals to promote access to justice and swift dispute resolution. The panel discussed how the commercial courts deal with complex cases arising out of business disputes. Mr. Wood proposed the need in Pakistan for a functional Dispute Appointment Service and Business Arbitration Scheme, while Landau QC was a proponent for the strengthening of the commercial courts and arbitration systems in Pakistan above all else. He stressed that the demand of such specialist courts has erupted due to customer demands to form tribunals or courts that had knowledge and experience of commercial disputes which could determine such disputes expeditiously and economically, thereby avoiding tediously long and expensive trials with verdicts given by judges or juries unfamiliar with business practices.


Riffat Butt opined on the legislative issues hampering both commercial courts and dispute resolution mechanisms, and the antiquity of the Arbitration Act 1940. She said that “the Act is now more than a centennial old and there is a dire need for statutory update”. Riffat also highlighted the importance of the commercial courts operating in Punjab and other provinces and jurisdictions to follow suit. Mr. Malik expressed his concern on making the system more investor-friendly to facilitate swift dispute resolution.


The second panel was on the “Arbitration practice, procedure, and process. What is the role of standardization?”. The panel comprised of Honorable Justice Lahore High Court Lahore Mr. Justice Asim Hafeez, Mahnaz Malik, Barrister and Arbitrator, Twenty Essex Chambers London, Victor Leginsky FCIArb, Commercial Arbitrator, Accredited Mediator and Dispute Resolution Consultant, Professor Martin Lau, Barrister & Arbitrator, Essex Court Chambers, and Catherine Dixon, Director General CIArb. The panel discussed the rules associated with Arbitration and ADR practice and procedures globally, and the need for Pakistan to truly ratify and incorporate these rules into the judicial system for the improvement of the capability of arbitration and other ADR practices. Mr. Justice Asim Hafeez discussed the main issues that arbitration parties face in the courts in Pakistan. Mahnaz Malik deliberated importance of further developing the procedure in domestic and international arbitration and training law enforcement professionals and judges in that regard. Mr. Leginsky, Professor Lau and Catherine discussed the issues concerning standardization of arbitration in Pakistan and the best course of action to incorporate arbitration tribunals into the existing judicial system.


The third panel discussion was “Arbitration and ADR: Global perspective and updates”, was moderated by Mohammad Zaman QC (panel chair), No.5 Barristers Chambers, Barrister Raza Mithani, Managing Partner, Conselis Law, Barrister Arshad Ghaffar, XXIV Old Buildings Chambers, Noor-ul-Aqtab Siddiqi, Director, Tower Bridge Solicitors, Mian Sami ud-Din, Partner BNR, and Ahmad Ali Al Ansari, Senior Projects Engineering Advisor, President’s Office, Public Works Authority, Ashghal, Qatar.


The panel went over the expansion and globalization of cross-border investment and trade and how this has led to increased and growingly complex relationships between businesses, investors, and States. This has increased the need for the preemptive measures of resolving any disputes which may arise, such as arbitration and other ADR provisions. Zaman QC elaborated on how national laws recognize and support arbitration is a mutually exclusive alternative to litigation and as a means of finally resolving disputes.


Barrister Mithani explained the need for establishing Pakistan as a well-regarded seat of the arbitration in foreign funded projects in Pakistan, and how that is the best way to safeguard Pakistani assets. Barrister Ghaffar, shared his insights on the amendments in institutional and ad-hoc arbitrations globally. Mr. Siddiqi discussed whether parties should be compelled by law to attempt ADR, and Mr. Sami ud-Din, added to the discussion by discussed Pakistan legislation and judicial standing on the matters of arbitration and ADR, through examples of caselaw.

The fourth panel was the “Energy and Power Arbitration in Pakistan”, moderated by panel chair Virginie Colaiuta, Partner LMS Legal LLP and Visiting Fellow King’s College London, Tauseef H. Farooqi, Chairman NEPRA, Shahzad Asif Sheikh, Director Legal WAPDA, Faisal Khan, Partner, CLM, and Barrister Mian Sheraz Javaid FCIArb, Partner MK Consultus LLP and Chair CIArb Pakistan Branch.


The panel discussion revolved around the energy sector in Pakistan, as one of the most important aspects of growth, development, and economic improvement. Virginie Colaiuta


Went over investment and commercial arbitration relating to energy projects. She explained that the energy sector is struggling through dispute resolution, specifically through arbitration, and without proper training and certificated professionals, the attempt can be fraught with risk. Tauseef H. Farooqi discussed the role of regulator in energy and power sector disputes. Shahzad Sheikh provided some clarity on choice of arbitral forums and most common disputes faced by foreign investors. Faisal Khan, discussed legal landscape energy projects in Pakistan prevalent issues, including negotiating and implementing contracts avoiding disputes, claiming, or responding to disputes, there are strict procedures to abide by. Finally, Mian Sheraz shed light on the effects and drawback of the outdated dispute resolution mechanism in Pakistan on the energy sector.


The fifth panel was “Major Project Dispute Resolution, a Client’s Perspective” and was moderated by panel chair Dr. Javed Uppal, President Institution of Engineers Pakistan, Kamal Nasir Khan, Chair Contractors Association Pakistan, Nudra B. Majeed, Barrister at Four Golf Road Chambers, Haroon Niazi, Partner & Head of Middle East, HKA and Nasir Khan MBE, Head of Contract Solutions, Currie & Brown UK Limited, Vice Chair CIArb Pakistan Branch.


This panel discussed construction sector as a significant contributor to the global economy, amongst many procedural complexities, and unavoidable major construction project disputes faced by most firms. The aim of the discussion was to highlight ways and means of major project dispute resolution and improve understanding of causation of disputes and how to avoid them. Dr. Uppal discussed the major infrastructure projects in Pakistan. Mr. Kamal Khan said that choice of arbitral forums underpins how most common disputes are resolved and how quickly they are resolved. Nudra B. and Haroon Niazi dissected dispute causation, the role of expert evidence and the legal landscape of infrastructure projects in Pakistan. The panel was concluded by Nasir Khan MBE with a detailed explanation on Pakistan’s first Construction Disputes Report.


The conference was concluded with addresses by the key note speakers, the Honorable Mr. Justice Muhammad Ameer Bhatti who spoke on “Pioneering ADR in Punjab”, the Honorable Mr. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah who addressed the attendees on “Pakistan’s future in ADR, Arbitration, and Dispute Resolution”, and finally an informative address by the Honorable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Umar Ata Bandial on the “Role of Judiciary in Supporting ADR & Arbitration in Pakistan”.


The event served a dual purpose of officially launching the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) Pakistan Branch. The Honourable Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan Mr. Justice Mansoor Ali Shah on behalf of the Honourable Chief Justice of Pakistan Mr. Justice Umer Ata Bandial welcomed Barrister Mian Sheraz Javaid as the Chair and Nasir Khan MBE as Vice Chair of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (CIArb) Pakistan Branch.


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To hear the full versions of the speeches and address by the speakers at the conferences, please visit Qanoondan’s YouTube channel.