By Jagpreet Sandhu
Early in November, I arrived home to some excellent news. Coming off a year-long circuit of international internships, I was quite honestly ready to never travel again. But as luck would have it, I was informed that that I had won the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators’ 2016 Essay competition and that as the winner, I was invited to attend the institute’s annual dinner in Sydney. With a little more love for Sydney than a Melburnian should admit, I overcame all travel weariness and quickly booked my ticket.
Fast forward about a week from receiving the news, I was at Sydney’s finest restaurant, tucked in for a meal I wouldn’t forget. Sharing a view from the top of Sydney Tower with some of Australia’s most well respected barristers and jurists was an excellent memory. To those interested in international arbitration, the name Gary Born will ring many bells, and the opportunity to hear him speak in person is far from an everyday occurrence.
Towards the end of the evening, I was presented with the award and $1000 in prize money, by Damian Sturzaker, partner at Marque Lawyers and accomplished international arbitration practitioner. Although the panel members informed me that in 2016 they received the highest number of submissions, an undisclosed ‘record number of entries’, it was doubly exciting that I actually won.
Damian did an outstanding job of outlining the essay topic of the year and in summarising my essay, afforded me far greater praise than I ever expected. The essay topic for this year concerned crafting a plan to establish Australia as a future cross-border dispute resolution hub, and according to Damian — in his capacity as head of the essay selection panel — my essay stood out on account of its strong focus on international involvement. He considered the essay “a truly international one in its approach”.
My essay was heavily reliant upon my experiences as an intern for the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL), where I observed Australia’s lack of efforts in the international scene. Whether discussing technical assistance efforts or just mere involvement in the discussions around the latest international standards, Australia was sorely missing in action. I hoped to address this and bring about change. I considered the essay as my first step in doing so. Hopefully I will be able to further promote this cause through other means moving forward.
With La Trobe Law School being a sponsor of the Essay Writing Competition, I would encourage other students to participate in this prestigious competition.
As an added bonus, I was invited for the launch of CIArb Australia’s Young Members Group launch the next day, which was to have the Honourable Michael Kirby in attendance. If I thought I was lucky the day before, the next day was simply something else. Not only did His Honour deliver an outstanding speech (that read very much like a great dissent – very captivating!), His Honour also reached out to congratulate me personally on my award, informing me that he was actually in attendance at the annual dinner the night before! A brilliant memory altogether and one that made my trip to Sydney simply unforgettable. I’ve worked very hard over the past year and it is extremely encouraging to see the hard work pay off.
Moving forward, I hope to keep up the momentum and carry it onto all other aspects of my studies and career.