About shahlaali

Assistant Professor at the University of Hong Kong.

Local Engagement in Pandemic Response

The recent global health pandemic has turned our attention to the role of local-regional coordination in crisis response.  In recent weeks, numerous examples of grassroots coordinated efforts to procure and distribute needed PPE to hospitals, or food distribution in neighbourhoods has become evident.  Communities have rallied to provide needed resources even in the face of racism and abuse, driven by a stronger motive of service.  The agility and responsiveness of highly networked, cohesive and empowered groups is increasingly evident, particularly in times of crisis.

These recent observations echo findings in the 2016 book, Governing Disasters: Engaging Local Populations in Humanitarian Relief, which reported on the attitudes and perceptions of practitioners working in disaster response.  The principal finding, based on survey data and follow-up questions with 96 humanitarian aid practitioners, was that there is a statistically significant correlation between the level of “peer” engagement with local residents and the perceived effectiveness of response.  Beyond “top-down” and “bottom up” governance frameworks, these findings speak to the emergence and efficacy of “hybrid forms” of governance that draw on top down coordination experience and bottom up localized knowledge generation. Such mechanisms have resulted in greater efficiency, better sharing of and access to information, increased strength in networking and coordination systems, improved resilience and the ability to integrate local knowledge with globally shared experience.

Online Pedagogy for Dispute Resolution Teaching

Special thanks to Professors Noam Ebner and Sharon Press for providing a useful and timely seminar covering online pedagogy for teaching courses in negotiation, arbitration and mediation.  The online seminar can be found here.  It covers lessons learned in conducting simulations using Zoom, including set up, conduct, observation and debriefing.

New Book: UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration A Commentary

Cambridge University Press has recently announced the forthcoming publication of the book, UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration: A Commentary by a global team of arbitration specialists:

This book provides a comprehensive commentary on the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Arbitration. Combining both theory and practice, it is written by leading academics and practitioners from Europe, Asia and the Americas to ensure the book has a balanced international coverage. The book not only provides an article-by-article critical analysis, but also incorporates information on the reality of legal practice in UNCITRAL jurisdictions, ensuring it is more than a recitation of case law and variations in legal text. This is not a handbook for practitioners needing a supportive citation, but rather a guide for practitioners, legislators and academics to the reasons the Model Law was structured as it was, and the reasons variations have been adopted.

The full citation of the book is as follows:

Bantekas, I., Ortolani, P., Ali, S., Gomez, M., and Polkinghorne, M. [authors], (2019) The UNICTRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration: A Commentary (Cambridge University Press).

The Adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration in Hong Kong

The first chapter of Professor Gary Bell’s book on The UNCITRAL Model Law and Asian Arbitration Laws: Implementation and Comparisons (2018) Cambridge University Press addresses the Adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law in Hong Kong and is available here.  The chapter examines Hong Kong’s unique jurisdictional characteristics following its adoption of the Model Law (“ML”) in 2011. While the bulk of the ML provisions were reproduced verbatim or near-verbatim to the Arbitration Ordinance (“AO”), provisions relating to the recognition and enforcement of arbitral awards were not included in the Ordinance. These and other minor omissions have, however, been alternatively provided for. The ML is largely integrated into the new Arbitration Ordinance, in the hope of “[facilitating] the ‘fair and speedy’ resolution of disputes, providing for maximum party autonomy and minimal court intervention.” The new Ordinance: (1) abolishes the distinction between “domestic” and “international” arbitration; (2) provides for interim measures; (3) codifies the new obligation of confidentiality; (4) promotes alternative dispute resolution; and (5) includes provisions in regard to the enforcement of arbitral awards.  The full citation is as follows:

Ali, Shahla F., The Adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law on International Commercial Arbitration in Hong Kong (November 26, 2018). The UNCITRAL Model Law and Asian Arbitration Laws: Implementation and Comparisons (2018) Cambridge University Press. pp. 9-28 (Gary Bell Ed.) ; University of Hong Kong Faculty of Law Research Paper No. 2019/110. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3493453

The Legal Framework for Med-Arb Developments in China

Findings on the legal framework for Med-Arb reform in China including recent cases, institutional rules, advantages and existing pitfalls have been published by Dispute Resolution International available here.  The full citation to the article is: Ali, Shahla F., The Legal Framework for Med-Arb Developments in China: Recent Cases, Institutional Rules and Opportunities (October 18, 2016). Dispute Resolution International, DRI 119. PP. 119-132, 2016 . SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3216252

Empirical Findings on Court Mediation Reform

Some of the key findings from a three year research project on court mediation reform are now available on SSRN as follows:

1.  Ali, Shahla F., Nudging Civil Justice: Examining Voluntary and Mandatory Court Mediation User Experience in Twelve Regions (February 18, 2018). Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution, Vol. 19, Issue 2, pp. 269-288, 2018 .

Abstract: Nudge theory suggests that positive reinforcement to encourage compliance is at least as effective, if not more effective, than traditional directions issued through legislation. This Article tests nudge theory in the context of court mediation reform by examining whether, and if so how, light nudges encouraging voluntary mediation have a differential effect on civil justice outcomes as compared with more robust nudges through mandated mediation processes. A statistical analysis of 2016–2017 civil justice indicators in twelve regions suggests light nudges, (voluntary court mediation programs, or (self-directed resolution), on average associated with higher overall jurisdictional scores for efficiency and non-discrimination. In comparison, robust nudges, (court-mandated mediation processes) show no significant difference in relation to the quality of civil justice, effective enforcement, accessibility and affordability, and impartiality, and effectiveness between voluntary and mandatory mediation systems in the regions examined.

2.  Ali, Shahla F., Practitioners’ Perception of Court-Connected Mediation in Five Regions: An Empirical Study, Vanderbilt Journal of Transnational Law, Oct 2018, Vol. 51, No. 4

Abstract: Courts throughout the world face the challenge of designing court mediation programs to provide opportunities for party-directed reconciliation on the one hand, while ensuring access to formal legal channels on the other. In some jurisdictions, mandated programs require initial attempts at mediation, while in others, voluntary programs encourage party-selected participation. This Article explores the attitudes and perceptions of eighty-three practitioners implementing court mediation programs in five regions in order to understand the dynamics, challenges, and lessons learned from the perspectives of those directly engaged in the work of administering, representing, and mediating civil claims. Given the highly contextual nature of court mediation programs, this Article highlights achievements, challenges, and lessons learned in the implementation of mediation programs for general civil claims. The principal findings indicate that overall, from the perspective of the court mediation practitioners surveyed, practitioners report slightly higher levels of confidence in mandatory mediation programs, higher perceptions of efficiency with respect to voluntary programs, and regard voluntary and mandatory mediation programs with relatively equal perceptions of fairness. Program achievements largely depend on the functioning of the civil litigation system, the qualities and skill of the mediators, safeguards against bias, participant education, and cultural and institutional support.