Edinburgh to launch arbitration festival in September

Inaugural event will rival London International Disputes Week and has backing of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration
Headshot of Justin D’Agostino

Herbert Smith Freehills CEO Justin D’Agostino will give a keynote address

The Scottish Arbitration Centre has announced the launch of a new event to promote arbitration in Scotland.

The Edinburgh International Arbitration Festival will be staged on 21 and 22 September, a year on from the well attended International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA) Congress in Edinburgh.  

The Scottish Arbitration Centre is behind the organisation of the festival, which will involve events on Thursday 21 September and a main conference and evening events on Friday 22 September.  

Andrew Mackenzie, the centre's CEO, said: “This new arbitration event will seek to be a truly international one, albeit with a Scottish flavour, and I hope to welcome back many of those practitioners from around the world who attended ICCA Edinburgh.”  

It will include a retrospective event involving ICCA to launch the 21st edition of the ICCA Congress series of books, which includes every paper presented at an ICCA Congress since 1982.  

Since the first conference in 1961, ICCA Congresses have established themselves as a place for discussing emerging ideas, fundamentals and contentious topics in international arbitration, with ICCA Edinburgh being no different, attracting hundreds of delegates.   

Lucy Reed, President of ICCA, said: “We are delighted to be returning to Scotland to support the first Edinburgh International Arbitration Festival and to be part of the launch of the ICCA Edinburgh Congress book. Our Congress Series provides in-depth analyses of past and current issues in international arbitration, courtesy of leaders in the field, and we very much look forward to the latest edition.”

Mackenzie said he was honoured the ICCA was supporting the festival, named ArbFest2023.

Fellow Scotsman, Justin D’Agostino, global CEO of Herbert Smith Freehills, will provide the keynote address at the main conference. 

He said: “It is always a pleasure for me to return home to Scotland, but it is a particular pleasure to be returning to speak at the inaugural Edinburgh International Arbitration Festival, and to be involved in the launch of the ICCA Edinburgh Congress book given my role as co-chair of the next ICCA Congress in Hong Kong in 2024.”

The Edinburgh event will rival London International Disputes Week, which takes place next month.

It will also be an opportunity for ICCA president-elect Stanimir Alexandrov to drum up support for ICCA's Hong Kong congress, which takes place in May 2024.

Alexandrov will succeed Reed at ICCA’s next meeting in Vancouver in June 2023. However, the role of vice president has already been handed over to Audley Sheppard KC.

The New Zealander, who leads Clifford Chance’s global arbitration team, recently announced the theme for ICCA Hong Kong with Arbitration Chambers’ Chiann Bao. 

Entitled “International Arbitration: A Human Endeavour,” the programme will focus on individual participants in the international arbitration system.

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