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Top corporates and business leaders are due to gather in New York next month to take part in the iconic Global Pound Conference (GPC) series, which aims to improve the way disputes are resolved in the domestic and international business environment. 

The historic Pound Conference was named in honour of Roscoe Pound, the reforming Dean of Harvard Law School in the 1920s and 30s. It was originally held in the US in 1976 and led to many changes, including the birth of the modern multi-door courthouse system.

Now, 40 years on, a new worldwide GPC Series will play host to more than 5,000 people, in 40 cities, across 31 countries worldwide, over the next 12 months. As well as gathering valuable data from each conference, the GPC will create the opportunity for all stakeholders involved in commercial dispute resolution – judges, commercial parties/corporate counsel, arbitrators, mediators, dispute resolution institutions, government officials, and academics - to meet and identify trends and cultural preferences in a way that has not been possible through any previous studies.

Having been hosted in a number of jurisdictions already including Singapore and Lagos, the next GPC will be hosted in Mexico City on 25 August 2016. The US GPC Series will kick-off on 12 September 2016 at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law in New York.

The US GPC Series is likely to have a significant impact not only domestically, but internationally. This conference will test the level of satisfaction for the current dispute resolution tools available and uncover how people in the US and across the globe are using different processes for more streamlined outcomes (such as litigation, arbitration, conciliation, mediation and mixed processes).

Using a common technology platform and a series of standardised metrics, participants will answer and discuss 20 core questions, which will create actionable data that will be gathered and analysed throughout the entire GPC Series to influence and change the future of commercial dispute resolution.

The GPC Series is being sponsored by Herbert Smith Freehills, PwC, the Singapore International Dispute Resolution Academy (SIDRA), JAMS, Shell; AkzoNobel; the Beijing Arbitration Commission (BAC); CIETAC, and the International Centre for Dispute Resolution (ICDR).

Chief Global Litigation Counsel at GE Oil & Gas Michael McIlwrath, who is chairman of the Central Organising Group for the GPC Series, said: "The GPC presents a unique opportunity for the business community to have a seat at the table and share their views about access to justice in the 21st century, and what changes need to occur in the way disputes are conducted."

Alexander Oddy, Partner and Head of Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) at Herbert Smith Freehills said: "We have been supporting this initiative since it was a pilot project in 2014 because we know it will provide real insights and actionable data. The culmination of this project will lead to real change to the dispute resolution processes available and how we do things right across the globe."

John Fisher, who leads PwC's Disputes Practice, added: "The GPC is a unique forum for users and practitioners to join a global conversation to shape the future of commercial dispute resolution.  This series will provide valuable insight into how stakeholders around the world currently conduct disputes, helping them to learn from others’ experience and improve the way disputes are resolved.”

Following Mexico City (25 August 2016), dates for other GPC events in the Americas are as follows: New York, 12 September 2016; Toronto, Canada, 15 October 2016; Sao Paulo, Brazil, 25 November 2016; Miami, 19 January 2017; Austin, Texas, 26 January 2017; San Francisco, 24 February 2017; Guatemala City, 09 March, 2017; Los Angeles, 16 March 2017; and Washington DC, 24 April 2017.

To participate in the Global Pound Conference Series and register for the New York event, please visit the website:


History of the Pound Conference:

The seminal event that led to the birth of modern dispute resolution systems was the Pound Conference in St Paul, MN, USA in April 1976 whose theme was: Agenda for 2000AD - The Need for Systematic Anticipation.”

Professor Frank E.A. Sander of Harvard Law School proposed that alternative forms of dispute resolution should be used to reduce reliance on conventional litigation, and overcome reluctance to use other dispute resolution options.  The 1976 Pound Conferences is credited with having sparked many changes in the US justice system in the decades that followed, including the creation of the “multi-door courthouse” to provide more procedural choices to disputants.

The Global Pound Conference Series aims to build a global conversation around developing dispute resolution techniques in the tradition of the original Pound Conference.


About Herbert Smith Freehills
Operating from over 26 offices across Asia Pacific, EMEA and North America, Herbert Smith Freehills is at the heart of the new global business landscape providing premium quality, full-service legal advice. We provide many of the world’s most important organisations with access to market-leading dispute resolution, projects and transactional legal advice, combined with expertise in a number of global industry sectors, including energy, natural resources, infrastructure, technology and financial services.
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