Asia Law Network is running this feature to highlight prominent female arbitrators who have carved successful careers for themselves in a male-dominated legal industry.
In this interview, we feature Anneliese Day QC, leading silk at Fountain Court Chambers. Anneliese has instructed in several high profile arbitration, adjudication and litigation proceedings in the Energy, Construction and Engineering and Insurance spheres. She shares about her passion for arbitration and underscores the importance of female role models.
What made you choose a career in international arbitration?
The excitement of dealing with lawyers from around the world, different laws and procedures and the challenge of resolving cross border and international disputes.
What aspects of arbitration do you enjoy doing most?
The sheer variety of subject matters and people I get to deal with. The privilege of experiencing different jurisdictions, different legal systems and using the flexibility of the arbitral process to suit the needs of the parties and the dispute. Cross examining witnesses as a senior female advocate can also be interesting. As an arbitrator one’s role is different and I enjoy ensuring everyone is at their ease and the dispute is dealt with efficiently and fairly.
Describe your experience when you first started out in your career, what have you learnt and who have you learnt it from?
I have been fortunate enough to have been mentored during my career by some of the finest legal minds in the world. The first time I went to court I found waiting outside terrifying (especially ensuring I was in the right place at the right time) but as soon as I went in I just loved the cut and thrust of advocacy. The most invaluable lesson I learnt was that cases are generally won on merits rather than the law, so you have to ensure you have both on your side: always remember that your Tribunal is a human being making a value judgment.
Describe a particular case you have worked on that stands out
I acted for a gambler with a pathological addiction who sued a very large bookmaker for allowing him to continue betting after the bookmaker agreed to exclude him. The case was in the national press and I was acting against a very senior silk when I was pretty junior with a very small team against a very large one. It really was David against Goliath but we made new law.
Another memorable occasion was being told by a witness in an arbitration that I was “only a housewife” and therefore did not know what I was asking him about.
What do you see as the key areas of change or development in arbitration?
Dealing with international disputes which involved different cultures and different levels of sophistication without standards being affected. Ensuring as level a playing field as possible and disputes being dealt with cost effectively and in a timely manner. Due to confidentiality, there is also a lack of information about the quality of decision making and the quality of arbitrators so there is a need to ensure greater transparency and knowledge without adversely affecting confidentiality – a real challenge.
The percentage of female arbitrator appointments globally has not been more than 10%, why do you think this percentage is so low?
Women’s lack of confidence to put themselves forward and/or promote themselves in the way that comes more naturally to (some) men. There is also a lack of knowledge in the market about new arbitrators (male and female) and clients can be conservative when it comes to trying unknown arbitrators who they have not seen acting as an arbitrator before. International arbitration can also involve significant amounts of travel and this can make balancing family and work life challenging.
Do you think that diversity in the arbitral tribunal (gender or otherwise) has a role to play in the arbitral process?
Yes. Scientific studies show that men and women think in different ways and take decisions from different standpoints. Having that diversity of approach can only benefit the arbitral process. There is no other area of life where females still only make up 10%.
Do female arbitrators/counsel face discrimination or unconscious bias that is different or similar to other professions?
Sometimes but there are also advantages/different skills that women have which they can and should use. The biggest barrier is women’s own self-belief and willingness to promote and put themselves forward.
What are some things about international arbitration as a career that make it difficult for females to progress and prosper?
The lack of role models to inspire the next generation and the amount of travel that can be involved.
The ICSID Secretary General (Meg Kinnear), LCIA President (Judith Gill QC) and, more recently, the SIAC Vice President (Lucy Reed) are all females. Do you hope that more women will be elected to oversee arbitral institutions? What is the impact of this shift?
Yes. It is incredibly important that women are seen as able to achieve these positions, creating role models for the next generation. This shift can only assist in the drive for greater diversity but there is still a lot of work to be done.
How do you think established female practitioners in international arbitration can pave the way for the next generation?
Being the best role model possible and mentoring the next generation of men and women.
Any word of advice for younger lawyers and aspiring arbitration practitioners, especially females?
Be yourself, work hard, use all the attributes you have to achieve the best for your clients, and always remember to have fun (whenever possible).
3 fun facts about you?
I am a hot yoga addict (a major plus of coming to Singapore), I have two children aged 8 and 6 who still believe that Mummy wins all her cases and I am passionate about elderflower bellinis.
This article does not constitute legal advice or a legal opinion on any matter discussed and, accordingly, it should not be relied upon. It should not be regarded as a comprehensive statement of the law and practice in this area. If you require any advice or information, please speak to practicing lawyer in your jurisdiction. No individual who is a member, partner, shareholder or consultant of, in or to any constituent part of Interstellar Group Pte. Ltd. accepts or assumes responsibility, or has any liability, to any person in respect of this article.