A message from the Hon. Secretary and a Director of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Sri Lanka) – John Wilson, Attorney-at-Law.

I met Anthony Abrahams, Director General of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators for the first time during his visit to Sri Lanka in February 2018. Anthony had convened a meeting of the members of CIArb from Sri Lanka. That meeting was joined by Francis Xavier who will be the President of CIArb next year. Francis, who is a fellow lawyer and officer of the IPBA, invited me to attend, as he knows of my enthusiasm for arbitration and ADR!

Anthony presented the idea of forming a branch in Sri Lanka to the members. The members present unanimously agreed to the proposal and a Steering Committee was formed comprising some of the members present.

In September 2018, Anthony returned to Sri Lanka and CIArb hosted a reception for the local members. Around 30 members attended.

At this gathering the members present were briefed on the progress in regard to the establishment of a branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in Sri Lanka.

Anthony invited Mr. Yuvanjan Wijayatilake, President’s Counsel, a former Attorney-General of Sri Lanka to be the Patron of the local branch.

In my role as Hon. Secretary of the Steering Committee I was responsible for attending to the incorporation of a company limited by guarantee. This proved not to be an easy task, since special permission from the relevant Ministry was required in order to use the country name ‘Sri Lanka’ as part of the name of the guarantee company. It was also necessary to obtain permission from the Registrar General of Companies to dispense with the word ‘Limited’ in the name of the company.

The guarantee company was incorporated on 23rd July 2019 and the members of the Steering Committee are the initial directors of the company.

Organizing a launch to which 150+ people were to be invited was no easy task. I was fortunate enough to be able to bring on board the European Chamber of Commerce Sri Lanka (“ECCSL”), of which I am a Director, to partner with the local branch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Sri Lanka).

The ECCSL, under my direction, meticulously planned the launch which was hosted and paid for by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators.

The launch of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Sri Lanka) was held on the 31st of July 2019 at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo, Sri Lanka.

The event itself was well attended by dignitaries from across the board, including Hon. Thalatha Atukorale – the Minister of Justice and Prison Reforms, who accepted the invitation extended to her by our Patron. She was the Chief Guest at the launch.

Welcoming the gathering, I noted in my remarks the significance of the launch both for the branch and CIArb.

“Significant because the new corporate entity will provide the stable base at a practical level which is needed for the organisation of the training and professional development activities of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators in Sri Lanka. The legal entity incorporated in Sri Lanka will adopt a strategic corporate plan which will result in more training and professional development events for all those involved in the sphere of Alternate Dispute Resolution.

Significant too for the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, since the new corporate entity – the 40th CIArb branch in the world – provides the 114 or so members from Sri Lanka with a stable platform in Sri Lanka for the furthering of the aims of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, which I can summarise, as training, education and professional development.”

I invited His Excellency James Dauris – British High Commissioner to Sri Lanka and Ambassador to the Maldives to be the Guest of Honour and he addressed the gathering.

Anthony Abrahams – Director General of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators travelled to Sri Lanka for the launch and addressed the gathering. He explained what CIArb is all about. During Anthony’s visit, I organized several meetings which were productive and will provide lead ins for future training programs of the branch and as to the persons who would be interested.

The event received extensive media coverage and in addition to the invited members, we were fortunate to have with us members of the Judiciary, sitting Justices of the Supreme Court and Court of Appeal, the Parliamentary Ombudsman, officials from the Attorney General’s office, representatives from the private sector and in particular from the field of construction, quantity surveying, engineering and architecture.

The first training program arranged by the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Sri Lanka) is scheduled to be held on the 15th of August 2019 at the Galle Face Hotel in Colombo. All 40 available places on the course have been sold out and there is a waiting list! This is an excellent start and if this can be taken as indicative of the level of interest, this bodes well for the future activities of the branch.

It was a very long journey from the initial meeting in February 2018 to the launch. Eight large box files of correspondence and numerous meetings had, I am sure that the considerable time and effort invested by me and all involved, will be reflected in the quality of the training programs which the branch plans to present, with a view to uplifting standards of ADR in Sri Lanka.

I would like to take this opportunity to personally thank Anthony for his support and guidance throughout the whole process.

John Wilson
Hon. Secretary and a Director of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Sri Lanka)