Lord Neuberger unveiled as keynote speaker at London International Disputes Week

Former UK Supreme Court head Lord Neuberger will open the flagship disputes conference

The former head of the UK Supreme Court, Lord Neuberger of Abbotsbury, will open London International Disputes Week’s (LIDW’s) core conference as the keynote speaker for 2023.

Neuberger, now an arbitrator at One Essex Court, returns to LIDW, which takes place on 15-19 May, having spoken at a hybrid iteration of the event in 2021. Former Lord Chancellor David Gauke MP delivered the keynote address in 2019, while the current Master of the Rolls, Sir Geoffrey Vos, spoke in 2021. 

Last year’s event focused on sustainability and diversity with the Law Society president, Stephanie Boyce, headlining the conference, alongside presentations by arbitrator Lucy Greenwood, founder of the Green Pledge, Mishcon de Reya associate Jenny Hindley, and John Sturrock KC on the need for greener dispute resolution.

The choice of Neuberger reflects the international nature of London’s legal community. A predecessor of Vos as head of civil justice in England & Wales, Neuberger was president of the Supreme Court from 2012-2017 before becoming an arbitrator.

He now sits as a judge of the Singapore International Commercial Court and, more controversially, has retained his position as a non-permanent judge of the Hong Kong Court of Final Appeal. The UK’s two Supreme Court representatives on Hong Kong’s apex court - Lord Reed and Lord Hodge - resigned last year citing the administration’s departure from ‘values of political freedom and freedom of expression’ following the imposition of the national security law in 2020.

Neuberger is also chair of The High Level Panel of Legal Experts on Media Freedom, alongside a wide range of charitable appointments. 

He said: “One needs only to look back to when I last spoke at LIDW, in 2021, to see how quickly the disputes landscape is evolving. To get ahead of these changes, the insights gleaned from a diverse range of leading dispute professionals at LIDW should be of great value to industry leaders.”

He added that his speech would “draw on my experiences working around the world” a nod to his work as a participant in the Standing International Forum of Commercial Courts, which was launched in 2017, his final year as Supreme Court president.

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The five-day programme of events, which The Global Legal Post is supporting as a media partner, will feature topics including how in-house legal roles are evolving and its impact on private practice, which has particular resonance for disputes lawyers. There will be events on the legal consequences of AI and the metaverse and cross-border data and disclosure challenges as well as a number of sector- and practice area-specific events, whose organisers have been given more latitude to innovate this year. 

A day will also be set aside to celebrate London’s role in international arbitration, mirroring other events internationally. 

Luke Tucker Harrison, co-chair of LIDW, said: “The core conference this year features unique insight from international judges in addition to looking forward to a world in which technology plays an increased part in resolving disputes.

“[Our] theme, ‘Adapting to a Changing World,’ reflects the rapidly changing world in which the disputes profession now operates and is intended to challenge us all to look beyond the horizon at how we shall have to assist resolve the disputes of the future.” 

In 2017, Neuberger said Brexit would operate “as a spur to encourage…legal services in London… to ensure those services are even better than they already are”.

The announcement of his keynote address came as the Law Society called for the UK government to support early accession to the Hague Convention, so as to improve the international recognition of judgments lost on leaving the EU, which had already previously acceded to the Convention.

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