Pakistan International Disputes Weekend: Impact on Pakistan’s course of dispute resolution

The narrative cultivated at PIDW successfully generated thought-provoking discussions that continue to provide tangible implications for the course of dispute resolution in the country

As the second edition of Pakistan International Disputes Weekend (PIDW) approaches next month in May 2024, we find ourselves reflecting on the transformative journey Pakistan has undergone to realize an important milestone - the first anniversary of the country’s debut in the international arena as an emerging hub for foreign direct investment. It is not too prudent to say that PIDW’23 marked the beginning of our journey for ‘reviewing, reflecting and reviving’ Pakistan’s legal landscape. 

 PIDW, Asia’s premier legal and industrial event, was co-hosted by the Pakistan Branch of the prestigious Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (Ciarb), MK Consultus LLP, and TCC ADR Centerin Lahore on the 20th and 21st of May 2023. PIDW’23 was a catalyst to unearth the potential of Pakistan’s legal landscape and cast an enriching effect on the course of dispute resolution in the country. The unique attribute that sets PIDW apart from a counterpart traditional legal conference is the convergence of senior judicial figures from all High Courts of Pakistan in addition to the diverse stakeholders from legal, industrial, and regulatory segments. The collaborative spirit exhibited at PIDW’23 towards promoting a robust and fair dispute resolution ecosystem to facilitate business transactions and investments in Pakistan was an element applauded and commended by the world. 

 The event shed light on a critical, yet often overlooked aspect of business expansion: networking. Through PIDW’s platform, delegates had the opportunity to engage in rich networking opportunities with practitioners and organizations from around the globe. PIDW’23 welcomed foreign delegates who, after the event, carried our ethos back to their respective home jurisdictions as ambassadors of PIDW, casting Pakistan in a positive light. The networking endeavors at PIDW’23 did not just stop at introductions; they further materialized into tangible outcomes in the form of business opportunities for foreign consultants and law firms with domestic practitioners. 

 The two-day event was packed with a range of specialized panel discussions delivered by seasoned practitioners globally, spanning over a wide array of pressing topics: exploring avenues to enhance litigation procedures in the country, to fostering a conducive environment for arbitration for promoting investment or highlighting the importance of mediation as a necessary pre-litigation step for disputes. Each discussion thread was meticulously crafted to create a comprehensive narrative on the evolution and future trajectory of dispute resolution in Pakistan. The narrative cultivated at PIDW successfully generated thought-provoking discussions that continue to provide tangible implications for the course of dispute resolution in the country, as reflected in this article.

The PIDW’23 event marked a significant milestone in Pakistan’s legislative journey. It featured a panel discussion titled “Introduction of Pakistan’s proposed Domestic Arbitration Act 2023”, which contributed to shaping Pakistan’s legislative framework. This panel discussion served as a launchpad for the Ciarb Pakistan Branch to produce the Arbitration Act 2024, which was acknowledged by the ‘ADR Reform Committee’ constituted by the then Chief Justice of Pakistan under the Chairmanship of the current Senior Puisne Judge of the Supreme Court of Pakistan, Honorable Mr. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah. The Act acts as an amendment to the pre-colonial and pre-partition Arbitration Act 1940 for Pakistan. The Arbitration Act will soon be tabled before the National Assembly of Pakistan for enactment and under the luminary guidance of Honorable Mr. Justice Syed Mansoor Ali Shah, the Act forecasts modernization of Pakistan’s arbitration framework by streamlining the arbitration process, making it more efficient and accessible, ultimately fostering a more conducive environment for foreign direct investment.

PIDW’23 sent out a wave of awareness regarding alternative dispute resolution as a by-product of the event: in the months following the event, capacity building in Pakistan has picked up pace as practitioners from various backgrounds, such as law, engineering, construction, and accounting have shown an emerging interest to train in some capacity of ADR or the other. This has paved the path for the cultivation of a local pool of experts for Pakistan, who are now armed with internationally standardized expertise, thereby actively allowing them to contribute to the dispute resolution landscape in Pakistan one dispute at a time.

The general shift in public perception post PIDW’23 regarding the adoption of efficient means of dispute resolution can be evidenced through a series of Memorandums of Understanding signed across various parts of the country with prestigious universities. Universities have shown a receptive attitude towards the incorporation of ADR into their curriculums. This strategic move aims to desensitize students with ADR from the grassroots level, thereby fostering a new generation of professionals equipped with the knowledge and skills to navigate the evolving landscape of dispute resolution. This proactive approach underscores the enduring influence of PIDW’23 and its role in shaping the future of dispute resolution in Pakistan. Apart from universities, the momentum following PIDW’23 promoted a conducive environment for institutional arbitration, evidenced by the exercise of the Ciarb Pakistan Branch in lending their technical infrastructure support and leveraging their global best practices to establish ADR Centers in Pakistan. 

PIDW’23 highlighted Pakistan in the peripheral of international organizations such as the Dispute Resolution Board Foundation, which picked up on the growing momentum of ADR following the event last year. In 2023, DRBF officially expanded to Pakistan, adding another key player to Pakistan’s legal ecosystem and unlocking the domain of dispute boards in the country. We find ourselves in a full circle as DRBF’s expansion announcement is scheduled to take place on PIDW’24. 

The judicial discourse on ADR at PIDW’23 was a crucial step to desensitize the masses and the judiciary. In the months following the event, a series of judgments were handed down that reflected the principles and practices discussed during the weekend. Notably, some of the judges such as the Honorable Mr. Justice Jawad Hassan and Honorable Mr. Justice Shahid Karim of the Lahore High Court and the Honorable Mr. Justice Yousuf Ali Sayeed of the Sindh High Court, have issued judgments indicative of ADR’s seeping role in our legal system. These developments, especially since they emanate from members of PIDW’s forum, were instrumental in reflecting the impact of PIDW on the judiciary. These judgments, in conjunction with the initiatives taken by universities and regulatory bodies, have collectively contributed to the evolution of the dispute resolution landscape in Pakistan. 

The year-in-review post-PIDW’23 has mapped a progressive trajectory for the course of dispute resolution in Pakistan. The cumulative effects of the discussions from PIDW’23 and the events that followed are realized in the strength of the upcoming event: PIDW’24 is co-hosted by the Honorable Sindh High Court, the Pakistan Engineering Council, and the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, United Kingdom. 

PIDW’24 is scheduled to take place in Karachi, a rotation from its last venue in Lahore, and is supported by all the High Courts in Pakistan, the apex court, Supreme Court of Pakistan, various foreign and domestic delegates from top-tier law firms, public sector bodies such as the, various industry stakeholders, regulatory bodies, International ADR Centres and industry sectors such as energy, oil, gas, and construction. 

The journey from PIDW’23 to PIDW’24 is a narrative of resilience, growth, and transformation. It is a story of how a single event can trigger a ripple effect, influencing multiple facets of a nation’s legal framework. Last year, PIDW generated discussion surrounding the introduction of a new arbitration act for the country: PIDW’24 progressively looks toward suggesting a new mediation act to elevate Pakistan in line with international best practices.  

As we look forward to PIDW’24, it is clear that the ripple effects of PIDW’23 are still being felt and will continue to shape the future of dispute resolution in the country. Events like PIDW serve as pivotal platforms for specialized dialogue in dispute resolution, fostering the adoption of advanced practices and promoting periodical networking among professionals. They offer a forum to deliberate on current trends, challenges, and solutions in dispute resolution, thereby driving the evolution of the field. These gatherings are instrumental in cultivating a sense of global community among dispute resolution professionals, encouraging collaboration and cross-border sharing of best practices. 

Beyond networking, these events play a vital role in raising awareness about the significance of dispute resolution mechanisms in facilitating international trade and investment. In essence, PIDW is not just an event, but a catalyst for growth and development in Pakistan’s legal landscape. The upcoming event is not just a continuation of a tradition; it is a testament to the enduring impact of PIDW’23 and a promise of the potential that PIDW’24 holds.

The author is Mian Sheraz Javaid, a distinguished Barrister at No.5 Barristers Chambers and Founding Chair of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators Pakistan Branch. Specializing in energy law, he serves globally as an Arbitrator, Mediator, Adjudicator, Neutral Evaluator, and Dispute Board Member. Sheraz can be contacted via email at or reached on his LinkedIn under the name of ‘Mian Sheraz Javaid’.

ePaper - Nawaiwaqt