About a dozen lawyers from New Zealand were among the larger than expected turnout for the Inter-Pacific Bar Association’s (IPBA) annual conference in Manila.
The conference, which had the theme Fostering Seamless Cooperation in ASEAN and Beyond, follows on from last year’s extravaganza held in Auckland.
IPBA President Denis Mr McNamara says there are 2,000 members of the IPBA with half of those turning up in the Phillipines, which he says is a “fantastic” turnout.
The Lowndes Law consultant says the registration was tipping at “the same as Auckland” at about 800 but there was a sudden influx of 200 guests in the days before the opening day, creating logistical problems. He says the bulk of those late registrations appear to be from China and the host nation.
Mr McNamara was too busy in his role as president to attend the 58 sessions but says he hears they were of “exceptionally high content”, with the most popular being those on Cross Border Investment and Litigation and Dispute Resolution. “Those sessions were completely packed out.”
Session topics included “One Belt, One Road One World: Managing Risks in International Construction Contracts” and “Faster, Higher, Stronger - and Fairer? - The Growing Impact of the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) on International Sport”.
There was also a discussion on AI – “Is Artificial Intelligence (AI) Going to Replace Us?”
“In Auckland last year that was the best attended session of them all. It’s clearly the catch-cry at the moment in terms of technology. It’s all about artificial intelligence.” Speakers included Henry Brandts-Giesen, the head of private wealth at Kensington Swan, and Jai Nairo, a senior associate in the tax team at Chapman Tripp.
Mr McNamara says his stint as president for the past year – and as president-elect for the previous year - has taken up about 90% of his time. Each conference-hosting nation takes on the presidency for the following year.
“It’s a very modern city,” says Mr McNamara of Manila. “The central business district is gradually moving to a former military area called The Fort. Everything is very modern, very tall buildings, and from that point of view it would put Auckland and Wellington to shame.”
A highlight of the conference were two golf tournaments.
Neil Russ, who also attended the conference, says the Country Club, where one competition was held, was a spectacular course with two crocodiles lurking in the water hazards. The second competition was held at the Wack Wack club in Manila.
“It was a fun “scramble format” which brought various nations together in a spirit of cooperation,” says Mr Russ, a partner at Buddle Findlay. “Our four included a Korean, a Filipino, a Swiss and a fellow Kiwi. We finished third runner-up!”