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United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) Asia Pacific Day Webinar 2021

The 2021 Asia Pacific Day of the UNCITRAL Asia Pacific Day (AP day) was successfully held on 10 Nov 2021. The theme this year is “The Role of Dispute Resolution in Assisting MSMEs and Economic Recovery”. The webinar highlighted the effectiveness and efficiency of Dispute Resolution around the globe. More than 200 participants had joined the webinar, enabling different parties from the legal sector to share the discussion virtually.

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Speakers of Opening Remarks

Ms. Athita KOMINDR,
Head of UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific

Ms. Komindr briefly introduced UNCITRAL as the core legal body of the United Nations system in the field of international trade law and gave an overview of the mandate of UNCITRAL, which includes progressive harmonization of trade law, technical assistance, and collection and dissemination of information. She pointed out that with the rise of cross-border transactions, dispute increases. The UNCITRAL RCAP has been investigating the efficiency, enforceability and preserving relationships of dispute resolution in MSMEs. She shared more updates from the UNCITRAL 54th session in which the mediation rules, notes on mediation and the guide to the 2018 model law are updated or revised.

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Ms. Jenny HUI
Legal Expert, UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific

Ms. Hui mentioned that MSMEs are the majority of businesses in most jurisdictions and account for a large portion of overall employment. She believed that the webinar could provide a synoptic view of how different areas of UNCITRAL’s work reduce the legal obstacles encountered by MSMEs throughout their life cycle. Ms. Hui presented to the audience the online course and internship programme of UNCITRAL. She ended her speech by sending congratulations on the event and expressing her excitement for more collaboration in the future.

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Dr. Shahla ALI,
Professor and Associate Dean (International), Faculty of Law; Director, the LLM in Arbitratioin and Dispute Resolution, the University of Hong Kong

Dr. Ali expressed her greatest gratitude to the organizers for inviting her to join this annual event. As the moderator of the webinar, she introduced all speakers to the audience. Due to the current situation, online is the new world for cross-border MSMEs to facilitate and expand their services. She also agreed on the role of dispute resolution in different ways can assist and support MSMEs during this challenging time.

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Professor Yun ZHAO
Head, Department of Law, the University of Hong Kong

Prof. Zhao focused his sharing on Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) and MSMEs. As the number of new developments, documents and organizations on dispute resolution are increasing, there are more possibilities and discussions on ODR. He brought up the significance of ODR for MSMEs in business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-customer (B2C) disputes and further emphasized the advantages of ODR in cross-border e-commerce for e-commerce exporters. He concluded that ODR is undoubtedly important for and useful to MSMEs in cross-border trade, as it carries the benefits of providing more data and facilitating further research.

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Ms. Josephine HADIKUSUMO
Director, Principal Mediator and Dispute Resolution Consultant, the Asia Mediation Centre

Ms. Hadikusumo began her talk with the interesting topic “MSMEs: what’s in your toolbox?” She believed that a successful Business in MSMEs should encompass dispute resolution. She pointed out it is essential for a business to foresee threats such as the pandemic, change in the political environment, partnership fallout, etc., and to plan for solutions, which allows the company to minimize the risk and mitigate the impact. She winded up her speech with a case study from Malaysia, sharing that the Malaysian government had come up with the COVID 19 act, which cost of mediation for hardcore poor and MSMEs will be borne by the government. This shows national recognition of the benefits of mediation in economic recovery.

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Dr. Francis LAW
President, Hong Kong Mediation Centre; Chairman, International Dispute Resolution & Risk Management Institute

Dr. Law shared his opinion on the role of dispute resolution in assisting MSMEs. It is widely known that MSMEs required stable finance, opportunities, protection and policy support and collaboration to grow sustainably. Dr. Law illustrated the 5 main roles of dispute resolution: Deal Making, Risk prevention, Protection and Value-added, Dispute Resolution and Continuity and Sustainability. Dr. Law said it is crucial for a business to provide effective and fair ways of dispute resolution and to have professional and well-designed procedures.

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The International Dispute Resolution and Risk Management Institute (IDRRMI) is honoured to jointly organize the webinar with the UNCITRAL Regional Centre for Asia and the Pacific (RCAP), the Faculty of Law of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), and the Hong Kong Mediation Centre (HKMC). We look forward to more collaborations with our partners in the coming future.