Global Pound Conference Series launched in Singapore



On 17-18 March the Singapore Supreme Court hosted the first event of the Global Pound Conference (GPC) Series, a large-scale project aimed at “shaping the future of dispute resolution and improving access to justice”. The project, named after Roscoe Pound[1], was developed in response to his call for more data on dispute resolution, saying in a 1976 speech that:

[W]e need far better data than are presently available […] on what is in fact going on in the courts so that we can develop some sophisticated notion of where the main trouble spots are and what types of cases are prime candidates for alternative resolution. And we need more data on the role played by some of the key individuals in the process.”[2]

The initial Pound Conference on Perspectives on Justice in the Future: Causes of Popular Dissatisfaction with the Administration of Justice held the same year in St Paul, MN, USA, witnessed a recommendation from Professor Frank E.A. Sander[3] on the use of alternative forms of dispute resolution to reduce reliance on conventional litigation, leading to the development of what we now know as modern dispute resolution systems. Forty years later and with ADR becoming the mainstream in dispute resolution in many parts of the world and dispute areas, the current GPC Series is a continuation of that initiative, having the ambitious scope of further improving the field.

Following a pilot event held in London in 2014, the current series of conferences[4] are expected to be hosted in approximately 40 locations across the globe[5] over a period of more than a year. These events are both an opportunity for debate, as well as a data collection resource targeting the four main categories of stakeholders shaping dispute resolution practices and regulation: users, advisors, providers, and influencers (i.e. regulators and educators). Investigating whether and how current dispute resolution tools and techniques achieve their intended purpose, and collecting actionable data on what users need and want in the 21st Century, will serve as basis for development recommendations to bring supply and regulation closer to users’ expectations. The Series also serve as gap bridging between facilitative methods (mainly mediation and conciliation), and adjudicative ones (like litigation and arbitration), bringing professionals and academics from both fields together, providing a platform for understanding each other’s often differing perspectives.

The launching event in Singapore hosted close to 300 voting participants, 8% of which represented users, with the rest being evenly balanced between advisors (23%), adjudicative providers (22%), non-adjudicative providers (24%), and influencers (23%). The most interesting finding from the break-down of the answers given by these different categories is that there is too often a difference between how the advisors, the different providers, and/or the influencers perceive the parties’ needs and preferences, compared to how the parties themselves declared to see them[6]. This difference appears to be somewhat in line with the data collected in the 2014 pilot event[7], revealing that there may be a significant gap between parties’ needs and expectations and what is provided to them by providers, advisors, and influencers equally. The future events following in the steps of the Singapore opening will al provide valuable information for researchers and regulators to make recommendations on improving not only arbitration services, but access to dispute resolution methods more broadly.

For more details, updates on the event series, and results of the upcoming data collection, visit

This article may be cited as follows: Dalma Demeter, “Global Pound Conference Series launched in Singapore” International Arbitration Asia (3 April 2016) <

[1] Dean of Harvard Law School in the 1920s and 30s.

[2] F. Sander, “Varieties of Dispute Processing” in The Pound Conference: Perspectives on Justice in the Future (Proceedings of the National Conference on the Causes of Popular Dissatisfaction with the Administration of Justice), Levin & Wheeler (Eds.), West Publishing Co., St. Paul Minnesota (1979), p. 86.

[3] of Harvard Law School.

[4] Primarily organised by the International Mediation Institute, together with leading professional organisations and academics, and funded by major law firm globally.

[5] As of March 2016, a total of 38 cities across 26 countries were confirmed.

[6] Complete results of the Singapore data collection, including the core questions, are available at

[7] Available at–%20Shaping%20IDR%20Convention%20-%20London,%20Guildhall%20(Oct.%2029,%202014).pdf.


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Assistant Professor of Law
University of Canberra

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