Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Taxpayer cash backed Scottish Arbitration Centre opens London Office in desperate bid to attract cases to Scots "irrelevant" legal market

Scottish Arbitration Centre opens in London after failures to attract major business to derided Scots leal sector. AFTER the spectacular failures of Scotland’s Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill’s abandoned litigation project which failed to attract litigants & legal business to the Scottish Courts, the Scottish Arbitration Centre, a ‘joint venture’ opened by the SNP’s Fergus Ewing and backed by the Scottish Government, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society of Scotland and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, has now opened offices in London in a desperate attempt to attract arbitration cases to Scotland, promoting Scots law as a a neutral, affordable, English-speaking, venue for international arbitration even though it has become clear that attempts to persuade companies & others to bring such business to Scotland is falling on deaf, and perhaps wiser ears, given the reputation of Scotland’s legal system, now widely viewed as the “most corrupt in Europe”.

The Scottish Arbitration Centre, a business headed by a former SNP legal spokesman, Brandon Malone, who made a name for himself in the letters column of the Scotsman newspaper a few years back, receives TENS OF THOUSANDS OF POUNDS of public money from the Scottish Government in the form of annual payments along with access to Scottish Ministers, according to information disclosed by the Scottish Government under Freedom of Information legislation. However, the centre has not publicised any big successes as of late.

john_murray_qcEx-Court of Session Fettesgate Judge Lord Dervaird made Hon Vice President of SNP/Law Society backed Scottish Arbitration Centre One of the appointments made to the Scottish Arbitration Centre raised eyebrows, in the shape of LORD DERVAIRD (aka Prof. John Murray QC) the Court of Session judge who STUNNED the Scots legal establishment in the early 1990s by resigning in a cloud of rumours connected to the FETTESGATE ‘Gay Justice Conspiracy' scandal has today been appointed as an Honorary Vice President of the Scottish Arbitration Centre, a ‘joint venture’ opened by the SNP’s Fergus Ewing and backed by the Scottish Government, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, the Faculty of Advocates, the Law Society of Scotland and the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors

The Scottish Arbitration Centre came about after a specific proposal for an arbitration centre was presented by Brandon Malone, solicitor advocate, on behalf of the Scottish Government’s steering group at a meeting last year between Fergus Ewing and representatives of the bodies authorised to act as Arbitral Appointments Referees (AARs) under the Arbitration (Scotland) Act 2010. Mr Malone, who also happens to be Chairman of the Scottish Arbitration Centre, has been involved with the SNP for many years and was the party’s “Assistant Spokesperson on Justice & Equality” in the late 90’s, famed among other things yet to be published, for writing letters in the Scotsman newspaper defending the legal profession.

The much hyped Arbitration (Scotland) Act 2010 pushed through by the SNP Scottish Government which the Scottish Arbitration Centre is using as a business model, aimed to promote domestic & international arbitration under Scots Law and, laughably, seeks to promote Scotland as a place to arbitrate disputes, legal & otherwise.

Critics of the Arbitration (Scotland) Act 2010 and its passage through the Scottish Parliament point out the legislation was put through Hollyrood at the suggestion of the Scots legal establishment to corner the arbitration market, seen as a lucrative business to be controlled before ‘outside elements’ took it over. The legislation seeks to increase the number of arbitrations under Scots Law while also increasing the level of business for arbitration advisers and the number of appointments of arbitrators based in Scotland, as long as they are agreeable to, or members of, or are under the control of the organisations who back the Scottish Arbitration Centre.

Our advice ? If you are planning to arbitrate, do it in a jurisdiction that is respected, rather than a jurisdiction such as Scotland where agreements are more usually made to be broken than made to be kept.

The Press Release from the Scottish Arbitration Centre (who managed to bring along David Mundell MP to the party) follows : Scottish Arbitration Centre London launch

On 18th January, the Scottish Arbitration Centre hosted a London launch at the City offices of solicitors McClure Naismith.   Along with guest speaker, the Rt Hon David Mundell MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State at the Scotland Office, the event was attended by leading independent arbitrators, senior representatives of the major arbitration firms and high profile QCs.  The Rt Hon The Lord Hope of Craighead, Deputy President of the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom and Patron of the Scottish Branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, and the Hon The Lord Dervaird, Honorary Vice President of the Centre, were amongst the guests.

Brandon Malone, Chairman of the Centre, welcomed the guests inviting the London audience to choose Scotland as the “Natural Alternative” to London, when a “home turf” conflict prevents London being chosen as the seat of arbitration.

Mr Malone offered London practitioners three good reasons to change from other longer established centres to Scotland: “Proximity, Familiarity, and Personality.”  “Proximity”, not just geographically, but in terms of language and culture; “Familiarity” because the Scottish courts have made clear that English cases can be used to interpret the new Scottish Act, which itself is based on the existing English legislation; and “Personality” which, with its spectacular scenery, top class venues, world class food, rich culture and history, and diverse cities, Scotland has in spades.

Mr Mundell, speaking on behalf of the Westminster Government said: “UK Ministers and UK Trade and Investment are committed to promoting the legal services sector in discussions with overseas counterparts and contacts.  The enhancing of dispute resolution in Scotland is an area they are highlighting. There are good reasons for companies from Scotland, the UK and further afield to resolve their disputes in Scotland.  An effective and innovative arbitration regime and cost effective solutions head the list…  Arbitration in Scotland is reckoned to cost around two-fifths of the cost of arbitration in London or New York… Our mature legal system backs up arbitration, with judges who understand the significance of supporting the arbitral process.  Meanwhile, the Centre’s business focus on the energy sector, both in the established oil and gas industry and the developing field of renewables means that the impacts of Scottish arbitration will be felt across Scotland and beyond.” (He’ll be saying different if Scotland goes independent – Ed)

Following the event, Andrew Mackenzie, Chief Executive of the Centre, said: “Our London launch was a great success, attracting senior members of the judiciary, barristers, solicitors and arbitrators.  It is clear that there is a lot of goodwill for our aims and objectives amongst the arbitration community in London, so we hope to work with them as we develop the Centre into a credible alternative to London and other international arbitration centres.”

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