The fourth Advoc International Business Law Conference took place in Nusa Dua, Bali on 15 and 16 August 2016. Like the last two Advoc IBL conferences it was held at the Courtyard Marriott Hotel which again proved to be an excellent venue for the event.

Some changes were made to the conference format this year. The general structure remained the same, with the event commencing at lunchtime on the first day, with a formal dinner in the evening, and concluding at lunchtime on the second day. This programme tends to maximise the opportunities of delegates to meet, mingle and network. This year, the number of technical sessions was reduced from 4 to 3, and a Q&A with the keynote speaker was introduced. These changes were intended to provide, among other things, greater opportunities for audience participation and this was certainly achieved.

The conference opened with an introductory address by the President of Advoc Asia, Dato’ Jude Benny, followed by the keynote address from Professor Karthy Govender who, among his many other achievements, served 2 terms on the South African Human Rights Commission. Professor Govender gave a fascinating talk about the role of South Africa’s democratic institutions in making a peaceful transition from apartheid. Professor Govender’s talk and the subsequent discussion chaired by Jude Benny was an informative and ultimately very uplifting insight into the challenges which democracy and the rule of law have faced, and have generally overcome, in the last 2 decades in South Africa.

The first panel session of the afternoon addressed the key ingredients in a successful working relationship between in-house lawyers and external law firms. The session was chaired by Andrew Komesaroff of Colin Biggers & Paisley together with in-house counsel of 2 major Australian companies who provided cogent, frank and invaluable insights into this important topic.

The second panel session of the afternoon, on construction risk insurance, was chaired by Greg Skehan also of Colin Biggers & Paisley. Greg and the 2 other panel members, all obviously leaders in their field, gave highly informative presentations about this area of law which is of significant importance to much of the Advoc network, and their clients.

The conference dinner on Monday evening did not involve a presentation this year, and the event once again proved to be an excellent opportunity to network and strengthen relationships between the attendees.

Tuesday morning’s session consisted of a panel discussion on arbitration; specifically, whether it was “losing the shine”. The presentations by the 6 panelists from Singapore, South Africa, Australia and Indonesia, chaired by Jude Benny, were amply supplemented by some very informed contributions from the audience.

The strategic purpose of the Advoc IBLC is to showcase the collective expertise of Advoc in business law. The conference certainly achieved that aim once again – the quality of the overall event and of the presentations was of an extremely high order and Advoc collectively can be proud of the impression it creates to clients and potential clients outside the Advoc network.

Tom Darbyshire
Partner, Kott Gunning