Mark Baldock and Sebastian Kokelaar, both barristers with Three Stone Chambers, were our lunch table guests for the 25th and last 2023 lunch bowl. Mark was, a few years back, a Visiting Professional with our firm and has since gone on to establish his barrister practice in London.
Mark discussed the proposed revisions to the English Arbitration Act. These revisions include an express disclosure obligation of the arbitrator while introducing an express power of arbitrators for summary determination of disputes. Also, the revision foresees an express provision allowing for the enforcement emergency arbitrator orders.
Sebastian took us to the new approach English courts have taken regarding the compatibility of investor-State arbitration clauses in intra-EU BITs with EU law. To recall, pursuant to the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement, the UK remained bound by EU law throughout the Brexit transition period ending on 31 December 2020, and liable to infringement proceedings for any failure to fulfil its obligations under the EU treaties. Nonetheless, the approach of the English courts differed significantly from the approach EU courts have taken, as English courts have found that EU treaties do not trump pre-existing international obligations such as those under the ICSID Convention.
The setting of our discussions was a bit more intimate than usual yet significantly more festive: our #Werkstatt the day after our Christmas party. Not only did we use this opportunity to highlight Mark’s contribution to our cookbook, but also to proudly present our recent Cook of the Year 2023: Julian Bickmann. Time for Philipp K. Wagner to drop the microphone.