On 6 September 2021, the Asia Pacific Institute of Experts (“APIEx”) and the Singapore Institute of Arbitrators (“SIArb”) jointly collaborated to hold a virtual conference “Spotlight on Experts”.
The conference was unique in two ways, it was the first ever Singapore conference which was organised by both Arbitrators and Experts – seeking to focus on the symbiotic relationship between the two disciplines in the dispute resolution process. Secondly, the Conference was the curtain raiser of the Singapore Convention Week 2021- a week-long series of events focused on bringing together global thought leaders to speak about the latest innovations and trends in alternative dispute resolution, to serve the fast evolving needs of businesses.
The conference opened with a welcome address by Prof. Leslie Chew SC, the President of APIEx, thanking all the sponsors and giving an overview of the conference, including introducing the Key Note Speaker – Mr Justice Vinodh Coomaraswamy.
Coomaraswamy J gave an insightful Keynote address regarding the issues and potential solutions of expert evidence. He highlighted that the two key issues with expert evidence relate to i) the use of junk science; and ii) the partisan expert. However, he considered that junk science was more a problem for other jurisdictions, such as the US, the remainder of the address focused on the issue of partisanship in expert evidence. When focusing on the partisan expert, he went on to bring in the seven principles from the Ikraan Reefer case, which laid the ground rules for the codified duties of experts in England and Singapore, and stressed the importance of education of experts, through institutions such as APIEx.
Following the Keynote, we moved into the first session -“Experts in Focus”. The panel discussion was moderated by Prof. Leslie Chew SC, with panellists Julie Raneda (Schellenberg Wittmer), Gregory Vijayendran (Rajah & Tann Asia, President, Law Society of Singapore)and Teng Hooi Tan (Singapore University of Social Sciences). The discussion was wide ranging with the panel addressing the role and work of experts (ensuring that they have the relevant knowledge and experience to opine the appropriate scope); the selection and appointment process; considerations of the right expert; and the potential difference between various jurisdictions.
The second session brought together a number of expert witnesses from different disciplines. Marshalled by Andrew Pullen (Fountain Court Chambers), the experts Anne Connolly (Ankura), Catherine Jago (CJH Energy), Jonathan Humphrey (HKA), John Gibson (Brookes Bell) and Chris Nunns (Kroll), gave their views on conflicts, independence, the use of joint expert reports and the nuances of providing expert testimony in various fora.
The final session was a mock arbitration scenario with experts giving concurrent evidence. Introduced by Iain Potter (J.S. Held LLC), the session involved two experts Hamish Egan (HKA) and Jonathan Ellis (Secretariat) entering the “hot tub” and being posed questions by Counsel (Nicholas Lingard (Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer) and Swee Yen Koh (WongPartnership LLP)) and the Tribunal (Shen Yi Thio (TSMP Law Corporation)). Chan Leng Sun SC (Duxton Hill Chambers, Singapore Group Practice) was also active behind the scenes, bringing the session together.
The conference closed with a short thank you to the speakers from Dinesh Dhillon, the President of SIArb, leaving the roughly 120 participants to enjoy the events during the rest of Singapore Convention Week 2021!
Click HERE to view more photos.
Jonathan Ellis - Secretariat International