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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Arbitration 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

James Morrison is applauded by peers for his “extensive knowledge” of international arbitration as well as his “sharp mind” and “pragmatic and strategic” approach.

Questions & Answers

Jim Morrison is a specialist in international arbitration, acting both as arbitrator and counsel, and  has extensive experience working in multiple arbitral institutions. He is an Australian-qualified lawyer, and has worked with leading international law firms in Australia and Korea, representing leading companies in a wide variety of complex high-stakes commercial and investor-state disputes. His expertise covers such fields as construction, infrastructure, energy and resources, M&A, intellectual property, shipbuilding, and joint ventures.

What was it about arbitration that made it attractive as a career?

Originally arbitration struck me as a career where you could travel as a lawyer, but I became hooked after it dawned on me that cross-border disputes provide a great space to flex creative muscles and legal problem-solving skills. 

What have been the highlights of your practice in the past year?

The clear highlight for me has been the establishment of Peter & Kim. Being a founding partner in an exclusively arbitration-focused international firm, and being able to work with such an inspiring and talented group of lawyers, has been exciting, challenging and very rewarding. Even in the face of all the current obstacles, the adaptability and dedication of our growing team and our clients has been a revelation.

How has exposure to various foreign legal systems during your career enhanced your arbitration practice?

I have been lucky to have had a foot in both camps during my education and career. My initial education and work experience were in common law; however, my postgraduate education in Sweden, followed by working in France and Korea, provided important experience in the civil law tradition. Also, working in arbitral institutions has been a fantastic exposure to foreign legal systems and a better understanding of the way that lawyers from around the world approach their job.

You have extensive experience in a range of industries. Which industry do you see being the hardest hit by the covid-19 pandemic?

The pandemic will have major impacts on most industries, but in particular it will have devastating effects on the travel and transport industries. It will also have a major impact on the legal services industry. A whole new way of providing legal services, including in international arbitration, will emerge from this experience. However, arbitration by its nature and practice has always been nimble on its feet, with a remarkable ability to adapt to change. It will be very interesting to see how our industry will look in the coming years, and perhaps we should be seizing on this time as an opportunity to embrace some change in the way we do things.

Has covid-19 had an impact on commercial arbitration? Are parties willing to be flexible in procedure and approach to get it over the line? 

My experience has seen covid-19 have a substantial impact on commercial arbitrations, both in terms of the subject matter of cases and procedurally. So far, however, I have found that parties, institutions and counsels have been very willing to adopt novel approaches to move matters forward. Some timetables have been affected, but by and large all our matters are moving forward.

To what extent can virtual hearings be relied on to decide high-stakes multibillion-dollar cases between parties? 

In my opinion, there will be difficulties to overcome for any virtual hearings that require complex witness and expert attendance. Audio delays and low-resolution images can be difficult to overcome in such cases. Given exponential uptake in the use of these technologies this year, however, I am sure that technological improvements are on the horizon so that virtual hearings will be more the norm and less the exception in the future. 

What reform do you think would help most improve diversity in arbitration?

There have been many important initiatives that have been undertaken to increase diversity in arbitration. There is plenty of work to be done. We should support more educational events in locations that are not typically on the arbitration conference trail, and support diverse groups of local lawyers and students to be the organisers, speakers and attendees of these events. 

What are the greatest obstacles faced by the next generation of arbitration practitioners?  

Getting jobs. With the ever-increasing number of new lawyers, being able to get that initial experience will be (and is already) particularly difficult. In a post covid-19 world, where firms may increasingly adopt a “work from home” model, it will be even harder for the next generation to get hands-on experience and mentorship.

Global Leader

Arbitration 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

James Morrison is applauded by peers for his “extensive knowledge” of international arbitration as well as his “sharp mind” and “pragmatic and strategic” approach.

Biography

James (Jim) Morrison is a specialist in international arbitration, acting as arbitrator and counsel, as well as having extensive experience working in multiple arbitral institutions.

An Australian-qualified lawyer, Jim has worked at leading international law firms in Australia and Korea, representing leading companies in a wide variety of complex high-stakes commercial and investor-state disputes, including in the fields of construction, infrastructure, energy and resources, M&A, intellectual property, shipbuilding and joint ventures.

Jim’s former roles include counsel at the ICC International Court of Arbitration in Paris; and counsel (acting secretary general) at the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration in Sydney, where he managed teams of lawyers responsible for the conduct of hundreds of international arbitrations taking place all over the world (but particularly in Asia). He holds a master's degree in international commercial arbitration law from the University of Stockholm.

Jim has been named in WWL: Arbitration (2012-2018) and has participated in working groups to revise various institutional and ad hoc arbitration rules. He regularly speaks at arbitration conferences and universities. Jim is a former co-chair of Young ICCA, and a co-author of the first English-language textbook on Korean arbitration law; he regularly publishes articles on international dispute resolution.

National Leader

Australia - Arbitration 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

James Morrison garners plaudits for his “fantastic arbitration work” and is commended as a “superb practitioner”.

Biography

James (Jim) Morrison is a specialist in international arbitration, acting as arbitrator and counsel, as well as having extensive experience working in multiple arbitral institutions.

An Australian-qualified lawyer, Jim has worked at leading international law firms in Australia and Korea, representing leading companies in a wide variety of complex high-stakes commercial and investor-state disputes, including in the fields of construction, infrastructure, energy and resources, M&A, intellectual property, shipbuilding and joint ventures.

Jim’s former roles include counsel at the ICC International Court of Arbitration in Paris; and counsel (acting secretary general) at the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration in Sydney, where he managed teams of lawyers responsible for the conduct of hundreds of international arbitrations taking place all over the world (but particularly in Asia). He holds a master's degree in international commercial arbitration law from the University of Stockholm.

Jim has been named in WWL: Arbitration (2012-2018) and has participated in working groups to revise various institutional and ad hoc arbitration rules. He regularly speaks at arbitration conferences and universities. Jim is a former co-chair of Young ICCA, and a co-author of the first English-language textbook on Korean arbitration law; he regularly publishes articles on international dispute resolution.

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