Brenda Horrigan Pte Ltd
30 Woollerton Park, #06-34, Singapore, Singapore, 257530
Tel: +61 2 9225 5536
Brenda Horrigan is “a true leader in arbitration in Australia”. She is “smart and highly experienced in multiple jurisdictions”, offering a practice that covers disputes in emerging markets and investor treaty arbitration.
Brenda Horrigan is an internationally recognised arbitration practitioner with some 30 years of global experience working from the US, Paris, Moscow, Shanghai, Sydney and now Singapore. She has her own practice as an independent arbitrator. Brenda is the immediate past president of the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration (ACICA) and remains on its executive. She is a fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and is listed on
the panels of numerous arbitral institutions.
Name one of your most memorable cases.
There have been many interesting cases, involving fascinating legal and factual issues (and often unique circumstances). Most cannot be named, but one that can was Rumeli Telekom A.S. and Telsim Mobil Telekomunikasyon Hizmetleri (ICSID Case No. ARB/05/16) (as counsel).
To what extent does the shift towards virtual arbitration influence counsel when it comes to selecting the geography of their arbitrator’s seat?
There is more willingness now to select an arbitrator from a location other than the seat – however, time zones have increased in importance because it is no longer the default that all parties and tribunal members will travel to the seat for all hearings. Therefore, having tribunal members in compatible time zones can enhance flexibility and convenience.
In what ways have you noticed tribunals becoming more sophisticated and entertaining a greater variety of techniques in proceedings?
The most obvious change has been the greater degree of comfort most arbitrators now have with electronic bundles, video-conferencing and other technological aids. There is also an increased willingness of many arbitrators to more pro-actively manage the proceedings and use procedural tools to enhance efficiencies and make the process both more effective and more user-friendly. Document production requests and responses, in particular, are the focus of many arbitrators’ attempts to make the process less onerous and more rational. Also, although there is still strong protection of due process, the explosion of guerrilla tactics over the last decade or so has led to some push-back against excess due process paranoia.
Some practitioners have told us of greater international harmonisation between arbitration codes of conduct, particularly for investor-state arbitration. Is this something you see, and how could it change arbitration?
I am not seeing substantial impact of formal codes of conduct; however, we are seeing increased sophistication across jurisdictions and an enhanced focus on discussion and application of a more uniform “international best practice” approach that takes the best elements from a variety of systems and melds them to improve user experience and outcomes.
Are you noticing a change in how arbitrations are financed? If so, what changes are you noticing?
There has been a substantial increase in the use of litigation finance not only by impecunious parties, but also by large corporates seeking balance sheet certainty and predictability. This is a trend that is likely to continue – as is the trend toward portfolio financing arrangements that package multiple disputes. The opportunities for creative approaches – and the jurisdictions in which such arrangements are possible – continue to expand.
How do you see your practice developing over the next two years?
I expect to continue to see a diverse and interesting mix of cases from a variety of jurisdictions and industry sectors.
The current arbitration market is reportedly working with a small pool of arbitrators, and it is becoming increasingly difficult to find arbitrators who do not have a conflict of interest. Do you agree, and if so, how can this issue be effectively addressed?
At least in Asia, the pool has expanded in recent years, and we are seeing an increasing number of arbitration practitioners setting up specialist boutiques or solo practices to escape the conflict issues found in larger firms. Initiatives such as WIA, the ERA Pledge, and R.E.A.L. (among many others) are helping to increase the visibility of newer voices at the table, and key arbitral institutions are making a concerted push to diversify their appointments. More work remains to be done, but in my view real progress has been (and continues to be) made.
What advice would you give to aspiring arbitrators hoping to one day be in your position?
First, do excellent work as arbitration counsel. People (opposing counsel, tribunals, etc) remember those who impress – whether positively or negatively. Make sure that you leave a positive impression behind. Second, be visible to the various arbitral institutions. Many early appointments come to young arbitrators from institutions, on what are often small but difficult cases. Those cases provide a good learning opportunity, as well as a way to build up credentials and experience. Third, be active in one or more of the many “young practitioner” groups that are now available for newer entrants to the field. Such organisations are a great way to make contacts and maintain existing networks, but also to gain substantive skills. And last but not least, believe in yourself and don’t be afraid of taking (reasonable) risks!