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Highlights

YSIAC Bangkok Advocacy Workshop 2019


18 October 2019
YSIAC Bangkok Advocacy Workshop 2019
By Amornwit Phesprasert, Associate, Herbert Smith Freehills


The YSIAC Advocacy Workshop was held on 18 October 2019 in Bangkok, and was specially designed to hone the advocacy skills of younger arbitration practitioners through a mock hearing demonstration of cross-examination of witnesses in an arbitration. The workshop was attended by around 60 participants, and provided invaluable insights on how to conduct a successful cross-examination in international arbitration.

The welcome address and opening address were delivered by Mr Warathorn Wongsawangsiri (Member, YSIAC Committee; Partner, Herbert Smith Freehills (Thailand) Limited) and Ms Lim Seok Hui (CEO, SIAC) respectively. Ms Lim shared that the objectives of YSIAC are to nurture and provide opportunities for younger arbitration practitioners and arbitrators to develop their skills while Mr Wongsawangsiri explained why this workshop would be beneficial to the attendees.

Photo-1 Photo-2
Left to Right: Warathorn Wongsawangsiri and Lim Seok Hui

Workshop participants and members of the audience

Ms Wendy Lin (Co-Chair, YSIAC Committee; Partner, WongPartnership LLP) then introduced the case scenario and concept of the workshop.

The case scenario concerned a dispute over the construction of a nuclear power plant, and the contract in question provided for disputes to be referred to arbitration in Singapore under the SIAC Rules. The Workshop programme featured mock cross-examination of factual witnesses by up-and-coming as well as experienced arbitration practitioners.

Both the first and second cross-examination sessions were presided over by Mr Chatchai Inthasuwan (Head of Litigation, Chandler MHM Limited), Mr K. Minh Dang (Member, SIAC Court of Arbitration; Senior Partner, YKVN) and Mr Siraj Omar, SC (Director, Drew & Napier LLC) as members of the Tribunal.

For the first cross-examination session, Mr Ramesh Selvaraj (Co-Chair, YSIAC Committee; Partner, Allen & Gledhill LLP) acted as the Respondent’s Counsel and Mr Kongwat Akaramanee (Associate, Kudun and Partners) was the Claimant’s first factual witness. Mr Selvaraj asked several leading questions in his cross-examination of Mr Akaramanee, and appeared to have cornered Mr Akaramanee with his questioning when his time ran out.

The Claimant’s second witness played by Mr David Lawrence (Partner, Pisut & Partners) was cross-examined by Respondent’s Counsel, Mr Pisut Attakamol (Partner, Baker & Mckenzie Ltd). Mr Attakamol adopted an aggressive manner in his cross-examination and attacked the witness from every direction through his questioning, which made for an exciting experience for the audience. However, Mr Lawrence kept his cool as a witness, and did not allow the rapid questioning to get to him.

In the second cross-examination session, Mr Paul Sandosham (Partner, Clifford Chance) acted as the Claimant’s counsel while Ms Sarocha Thongperm (Senior Associate, Weerawong C&P) acted as the Respondent’s first witness. The Claimant’s second witness was played by Mr John Rainbird (Counsel, Allen & Overy) who was cross-examined by the Respondent’s Counsel, played by Mr Ekasit Suttawat (Associate, DLA Piper (Thailand) Limited). This second cross-examination session also provided a demonstration of various cross-examination techniques and the skills that lawyers need in order to get the answers they want from witnesses.

A panel discussion, moderated by Mr Wongsawangsiri, took place thereafter. The panellists comprised Mr Inthasuwan, Mr Dang, Mr Omar, SC and Mr Sandosham. Mr. Wongsawangsiri invited the panel to discuss the essentials of cross-examination and tips for a successful cross-examination. The panel emphasised the importance of ‘asking leading questions’, ‘knowing the answer to the question you ask’ and on witness preparation. The panel also shared some thoughts on asking leading questions and opined that in certain circumstances, open-ended questions may work to a counsel’s advantage. It was noted by the panel that good lawyers must be able to observe the answers from the witness and decide how to order and structure their questions. The panel also discussed the scenario where a tribunal may interrupt and ask too many questions during cross-examination and cause the counsel to lose the flow of their questions due to the frequent interruptions.

We hope this interesting and successful event would be the first of many more such events held in Bangkok in the future.
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