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Highlights

YSIAC Advocacy Workshop 2019 Kuala Lumpur


29 March 2019
YSIAC Advocacy Workshop 2019, Kuala Lumpur
by Joyce Lim Hwee Yin, Associate, Skrine


The Young Singapore International Arbitration Centre (YSIAC) Advocacy Workshop (Workshop) was held on 29 March 2019 in Kuala Lumpur at the KL Bar Auditorium. The Workshop was essentially an arbitration training workshop focused on honing the advocacy skills of young arbitration practitioners.

The Workshop started off with a warm welcome address from Kevin Nash, the Deputy Registrar and Centre Director of SIAC.

Ramesh Selvaraj (Co-Chair of the YSIAC committee and Partner in Allen & Gledhill LLP) then introduced a hypothetical case scenario concerning a dispute involving a contract for the construction of a nuclear power plant. This was followed by Sessions 1 and 2 of the Workshop which featured a mock cross-examination of factual witnesses over the hypothetical case scenario.

PANEL DISCUSSION ON HOW TO CONDUCT A SUCCESSFUL CROSS-EXAMINATION

The panellists were Mr Francis Xavier, SC, PBM (Partner, Rajah & Tann Singapore LLP), Mr Nahendran Navaratnam, Partner, Navaratnam Chambers) and Ms Sharon Chong Tze Ying (Partner, Skrine).

Mr Xavier shared that in the course of cross-examination, counsel should put forth short and leading questions to the witnesses. Showing contradiction in the witness statements would only be useful if the contradiction is helpful to the counsel’s case. On the other hand, counsel should refrain from highlighting any contradiction if to do so would be detrimental to the counsel’s case.

Mr Navaratnam emphasised that counsel should not entirely rely on the witness statements because there may be gaps. Instead, cross-examination should be based on the facts that the counsel would like to emphasis and establish. Counsels are advised to utilise the time given for cross-examination wisely to elicit facts which would support the counsel’s own case and at the same time, gather evidence that would defeat the witness’ own version of the facts. Another tip would be that stopping a witness from completing his/her answers too quickly may result in the opponent having a chance to re-examine the witness.

Ms Chong shared that counsel should study the facts and documentary evidence in preparation of cross-examination carefully and focus on which questions to ask.

WhatsApp-Image-2019-03-29-at-8.29.00-PM IMG_20190329_210810_1
Members of the audience

Group photo with speakers of the YSIAC Advocacy Workshop

Q&A SESSION

An interesting question was put to the panellists: should there be a difference in how counsel approaches cross-examination in arbitration when compared to litigation?

In response, the panellists highlighted that there is much less time for cross-examination in the course of arbitration than during a trial in court. Therefore, in arbitration, counsel should be focused on the points to be established in his/her case and be direct when questioning a witness.

The YSIAC Kuala Lumpur Advocacy Workshop provided an unrivalled opportunity for young arbitration practitioners to hone their advocacy skills, improve legal reasoning and gain pointers on how to conduct a successful cross-examination from experienced practitioners.

Ms Wendy Lin (Co-Chair of the YSIAC Committee and Partner of WongPartnership LLP) in her closing remarks explained that the key objective of the YSIAC Committee is to provide opportunities like these to train young practitioners.

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