In June, international arbitration expert Catherine Rogers traveled to Tbilisi, Georgia for the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) as part of its Judicial Independence and Legal Empowerment Project (JILEP), implemented through the East-West Management Institute. Rogers, the Paul and Marjorie Price Faculty Scholar, consulted with the Georgian Association of Arbitrators (GAA) Governing Board to develop a strategy for enforcing the Code of Ethics for Georgian Arbitrators. As part of this effort, she spent five days in Tbilisi where she gave a presentation on the Role of Ethics in Arbitration at a conference dedicated to raising the awareness of the Code among Georgian legal and business professionals. The specific purpose of the conference was to promote the newly minted code of ethics for arbitrators and explore means of implementation, and was attended by a range of Georgian lawyers, judges and governmental officials.
“Arbitration-related developments in Georgia are quite impressive, and in many respects attributable to the personal determination of those locals leading the efforts,” said Rogers. “But Georgia’s initiatives also have a lot in common with what I see happening in other under-developed and emerging economies (e.g., Palestine, Rwanda, Mexico, etc.), where domestic arbitration is being developed as an alternative to troubles in local courts, but also inevitably relies on local courts to implement arbitration reforms.”
According to Rogers, in those jurisdictions, much of the impetus and international support for efforts to reform local domestic arbitration is linked to larger goals such as promoting the rule of law more generally, developing a friendlier environment for foreign investment and international trade, and attracting international legal and arbitration business. These efforts have local arbitration reforms looking to and relying on international standards (like arbitrator impartiality standards) and involve local judiciaries and ministries of law.
“For these reasons, the links between international arbitration and domestic arbitration reforms can be, and perhaps are, a catalyst for integrating international procedural and rule of law standards into local legal institutions with an apparent effectiveness that has eluded other areas of international legal reform,” said Rogers.
The USAID-sponsored initiative aims at promoting the rule of law, and domestic and international arbitration. As part of its commercial law development work in Georgia, the JILEP hopes to broaden awareness of alternative dispute resolution to resolve disputes and improve the practice of arbitration.
Catherine A. Rogers is a scholar of international arbitration and professional ethics at Penn State Law, with a dual appointment as Professor of Ethics, Regulation and the Rule of Law at Queen Mary, University of London. Professor Rogers is a Reporter for the American Law Institute’s new Restatement of the U.S. Law (Third) of International Commercial Arbitration, one of the ICC Palestine’s delegated members of the Court of Arbitration for the new Jerusalem Arbitration Centre, a member of the Board of Directors of the International Judicial Academy, and co-chair, together with William W. “Rusty” Park, of the ICCA-Queen Mary Task Force on Third-Party Funding in International Arbitration. She is also working to found Arbitrator Intelligence, an interactive informational network to increase equal access to information and increase accountability in the arbitrator selection process.