International Arbitrations and Other Jurisdictions
I am undoubtedly more comfortable in the UK and South African jurisdictions. However, a lot of my work takes me into other African and international jurisdictions.
As an expert, a lot of time is spent alone or with counsel discussing aspects of the matter.
These breakout meetings can be conducted by the pool in fully suited attire or in restaurant areas over breakfast, lunch or dinner.
The standard of accommodation is dependent on the location of the hearings. Over the years, I have experienced the good and not so good…
The venues have included hotel chains to craft houses. I’ve been to remote accommodation in farmlands, where snakes and spiders are your fellow guests. The variety is both a fascinating and, occasionally, terrifying element of work as an expert.
The Frogs of Gaborone
In Gaborone, Counsel and I sat by the pool discussing the matter with a wild frog chorus croaking in the background. After 60 minutes, Counsel said rather animatedly “what is that blasted noise?!’
Nairobi Room Service
Travelling in readiness for one hearing and following two long distance flights, I arrived at 10pm at my hotel. I planned to watch England play some international football and duly ordered a sandwich and a drink for supper from room service. I decided to shower before settling down in comfort for the rest of the evening. Fortunately, the shower had good water pressure but unfortunately only cold water. I watched the football and England could not defeat Iceland. With an ice-cold shower, an England defeat and no sign of the room service I decided to go to bed.
At 130am I woke with a start hearing a knock on the door…my supper had eventually arrived.
A Mombasa Morning
One morning, driving through the Mombasa rush hour. We witnessed the sheer carnage of African traffic due to an overturned articulated lorry crossing two lanes. Arriving late for the hearing, I was excused for being ‘on African time’!
A Tense Dinner
In attending dinner one night with a client, we entered the restaurant through the kitchen and for some bizarre reason, the client then assured me that leaving the engine running on his car was appropriate. I enjoyed the dinner but had my eyes fully open at all times.
Arbitration Adjournment in Africa
On another occasion, when a matter adjourned to facilitate settlement discussions over a two-day workshop, the three-man tribunal excused themselves and went on safari for the two days. I was of course stranded with no one to talk to and found myself in between my room and the pool, attempting to catch up on my reading and emails.
Remote in Zambia
In a remote African location, I spent two nights eating by candlelight with colleagues due to power outages. The return to my room included stepping over 4-foot snakes and a greeting from hand-size spiders in the bathroom.
Valentine’s Night in Harare
On a 14th of February sometime in the 2000’s I found myself in Harare for an international arbitration, I had become unaware of the date. On returning to my accommodation, I came down for my usual dinner for one. The table, scattered with roses and prepared with champagne awaited. I felt very special. A 3-course dinner followed by chocolate hearts ensued. It was not until I surveyed the dining room and noticed that all of the single men were experiencing the same special treatment that I realised that this was not a normal dinner.
I have shared dinner under the African skies with clients and have enjoyed the company of some outstanding and intelligent individuals and I am grateful to them all for the shared experiences…thus far…
For more on this ‘expert secrets’ series including some of the more unusual of Damian’s international experience, follow this link.