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Amsterdam 2014 - Post Conference Review

The 2014 World Link for Law Annual Conference was held between Friday 16th and Saturday 17th May 2014 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. The conference was one of the highest attended conferences in recent years, with over 70 delegates attending, including members from Australia, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Peru, Uruguay and Argentina. This level of attendance was probably helped by the new format for European conferences, of shorter duration, running into the weekend and with special price structures for additional lawyers from member firms and also for junior lawyers. It has been recognised that to help continuity and long term relationships, junior lawyers in member firms should also have good opportunities to meet and discuss matters, and at economic rates for the member firm. In the research of delegates after the conference many seemed to favour this overall style structure for European meetings.

The conference included informative presentations, open group discussions and special interest group meetings for Intellectual Property, Tax Law and International Arbitration, as well as social events, with numerous opportunities to meet World Link for Law colleagues.

Click on photos to enlarge.

The conference hotel

The conference hotel was the Crowne Plaza Hotel (Amsterdam Centre), a combination of old Dutch town houses and modern and contemporary buildings fused into a homogenous structure, conveniently located only a few minutes walk from the main station and yet close to the shopping areas near Dam Square and peaceful north west side of the city canals of the Singel and Herengracht.

The conference business programme

The conference business programme started on Friday morning and concluded on Saturday lunch time. To commemorate 25 years, during the conference, in the coffee break area there was a large TV screen showing pictures of members at various events over the more recent years and two portfolios of archive material presenting the Association’s evolution and growth. It was also memorable that former President, Steuart Howie of Edinburgh was able to join the conference.

 

Part of the Amsterdam relaxed cultural experience The Crowne Plaza Hotel
 

After the general conference introductions, Wim Bulthuis of Rotshuizen Geense Advocaten (from Leeuwarden) provided a short light hearted presentation about perceptions of the Dutch people to enable us foreigners at the conference to separate fact and fiction! One of his business partners, Evert-Jan Rotshuizen then gave us an insight into little known, but useful international conventions in the field of civil and commercial law. To conclude the first part of the morning sessions presented by our Dutch member firms, Peter Kirpensteijn of Kiveld International Lawyers (The Hague) made an illuminating presentation, (linked to a prize won by David Johnson of Adelaide) about taxes and in particular value added tax, connected to a colourful and historical tour.

After the first coffee break and a chance to meet and talk to new members, Matthias Haentjens, Professor of Financial Law, at Leiden Law School made an informative study based presentation about the current state of the banking union and that the new European bank insolvency regime may have major implications for all parties involved: for banks, for investment firms, for share and bond holders, for financial and consumer creditors and, of course, for legal advisors and litigators.

On Friday afternoon, after lunch, there was the Annual General Assembly and election of a new Board of World Link to serve for three years. Paul Sillis was re-elected as President and Cristiana Stoica of Romania as Vice President. The President made a short presentation with slides presenting the 25 year history of the Association. It highlighted landmarks, events and activities from certain years with some identification of plans for the future. (This presentation is available to members, to download, from the Meetings and Conferences section of the Members Zone.)

After the afternoon coffee break, invited guest speaker Kristine Peers, Assistant General Counsel of Pfizer in Belgium, provided us with an insight to healthcare in Europe, its challenges and opportunities, the role of Member States and the EU and latest developments. She also introduced us to the EU legislative process and the efforts businesses take to have their voice heard.

On Friday morning we divided into 3 groups for separate Special Interest Group meetings for Intellectual Property, Tax Law and International Arbitration. Notes and action plans were prepared at each meeting.

After the break, the final session was a presentation and open floor discussion with contributions by various members concerning the issues and possible opportunities for lawyers arising out of the events, in recent years, in the Middle East, Ukraine and North Africa, such as sanctions, embargoes and revolutions, often resulting in issues such as individuals needing to move themselves and their assets to other areas (immigration and asset structuring), also asset tracing and dealing with trade and economic sanctions. For example, situations concerning clients with frozen assets, or the need to check the source of funds. James Badcock, of Collyer Bristow (Geneva office) led and orchestrated the discussion, enlisting interesting contributions, in particular from Cristiana Stoica (and her very personal experiences of the Romanian revolution in 1989/90), Stephen Schott (of Washington DC) and Segun Adesokan (of Lagos, Nigeria).

 

Professor Matthias Haentjens of the
Leiden Law School presenting.
Some of the member delegates in conference
Networking during the coffee break Segun Adesokan of Lagos, Nigeria makes his contribution during a group discussion session on issues arising out of political conflict in certain countries
 
One of the 3 Special Interest Group meetings on Saturday morning. This is the Tax Law group, being chaired by Peter Kirpensteijn.  
 

Comments from some of the delegates

“It was great to meet World Link members for the first time and to be able to participate constructively.”
Segun Adesokan, Adesokan & Adesokan, Lagos, Nigeria

 “A good combination of nice social events, a useful business programme, and a great opportunity to meet fellow international lawyers.”
Tom Whalen, Schott Johnson LLP, Washington DC, USA

“It was a pleasure for me to meet other World Link colleagues from all over the world, which was a valuable and memorable experience.  I am very grateful for the kindness and hospitality of our Dutch member firms”.
Philip Jones, Foster Nicholson Jones Lawyers, Melbourne, Australia

“Another excellent conference; and so good to see the association’s strength with a significant number of delegates from many parts of the world.”
Wolfgang Burchia, Burchia & Eccher, Bolzano, Italy

 “My first conference and it was excellent both the speakers and the convenient venue. I have met many colleagues from jurisdictions all around the world, which I believe will become very useful contacts.”
Raul Villavicencio Bedoya, Estudio Llona & Bustamante Abogados Lima, Peru

 “Very informative, well organised and useful to expand my firm’s business possibilities.”
Michael Wilensky, Advokatfirman Wilensky & Partners HB, Malmö, Sweden

 

Thursday social event (15th May)

Before the conference on Thursday evening there was a pre-conference dinner at the historic Haesje Claes restaurant serving traditional Dutch food which was well received by everyone. The restaurant was about 1200 metres from the hotel (slightly too far to walk and too short to justify bus hire) and so in Amsterdam style tickets were provided to catch a tram for the two stops to the restaurant.
 
Part of our group, waiting for the tram to take us to the ‘Spui’ tram stop for the Haesje Claes restaurant – the conductors on the trams were surprised by a large group. Many returned to the hotel by tram; some walked back to ‘walk off’ dinner to relax; and others went out to explore other entertainment possibilities in Amsterdam.
   
 

Friday social event (16th May)

On Friday evening there was a gala dinner at the conference hotel, attended by over 90 delegates and guests, preceded by a pre-dinner drinks reception and after dinner during digestives and coffee, there was the famous World Link for Law fun quiz. During dinner, the slide show continued on the main screen. Afterwards the President, Paul Sillis made a short presentation, after announcing the winning table of the quiz, and we all toasted the Association to celebrate its 25th Anniversary.

 

 

Saturday – Canal cruise (17th May)

Normally with longer conferences, there would be a full day excursion, but with this shorter duration conference, after the Saturday morning conference session and lunch, we had a half day tour which consisted of an open roof canal tour and guided walking tour of the fashionable Jordaan district of Amsterdam. The weather was fantastic so the roof canopies of the two historic Dutch barge boats that we had hired could be fully open enabling us to see the sights and architecture. In the evening a small group went to the D’Vijff Vlieghen restaurant for dinner – the building was very old and the small narrow stairs were very steep!

All aboard the Dutch canal barges – going beneath bridges, those on the outside deck must be careful to mind their heads. There was an an on-board bar, tea, coffee and cakes.
   
   
  Dinner at D’Vijff Vlieghen restaurant – we were in two separate rooms. It was nice to see former President Steuart Howie again (front left with silver coloured hair!)
 

See you in Miami, USA, May 27-30, 2015 (or before in New York at the North American regional meeting on 15 November 2014)

 

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