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Barcelona 2016 - Post Conference Review

World Link for Law Conference, Barcelona, Spain (May 12-15)

The 2016 World Link conference was held in Barcelona in mid-May.

Barcelona, the cosmopolitan capital of Spain’s Catalonia region, is defined by quirky art and architecture, imaginative food and vibrant street life. It has medieval roots, seen in the maze like Gothic Quarter, but a modernist personality represented by architect Antoni Gaudí’s fantastical Sagrada Família church. Its restaurant scene, anchored by the central Boqueria market, ranges from fine dining to tiny tapas bars.
The conference included informative presentations and discussions. Additionally, there were meetings of the Special Interest Groups for Arbitration and Tax; and before the conference there was an Eastern European regional meeting and a ‘LATAM’ meeting. It was noted that due to the recently introduced discount pricing for additional delegates, there were many junior lawyer attendees from many member firms, which should be encouraged in the future.

The conference hotel

The conference hotel was the Gallery Hotel, adjacent to Passeig de Gracia which is a main shopping street and also the home of Gaudi’s Casa Batlló and Casa Milà; and also next to the Rambla de Catalunya with its numerous street cafés and restaurants, but well away from the busier Plaza de Catalunya and well known Ramblas area. The hotel was mainly chosen for its location which was also within 300 meters of the historic Equestrian Club called ‘Circulo Ecuestre’, which was the location of our conference gala dinner on Friday evening.

The roof top terrace bar and pool at the Gallery Hotel, which many delegates retired to in the late evening.

The conference business programme
The main meeting was held in the basement Ambassador Room on Friday and Saturday (up to lunchtime) with its pre-function area for coffee breaks; although coffee breaks and lunches were held outside in a pleasant courtyard.
After the World Link for Law President’s welcome, there was an introduction by Julio de Miquel, Senior Partner of Arasa & de Miquel to Sr. Xavier Trias, former Mayor of Barcelona and member of the Democratic Convergence of Catalonia, to open the conference. It was appreciated that he could take time out of his busy schedule and also to provide some insight into the business and political situation of Catalonia. This was followed by Jordi Sellares (Secretary General, ICC Spain) and his practical presentation about becoming an ICC arbitrator – elsewhere in the conference there was a general theme about dispute resolution issues; the next conference will probably be more transaction based.
After the first coffee break, there was time to welcome some recent new members who made short presentations about themselves and their firms. These included representatives of the firms of: Hayabusa Asuka Law Offices, Japan; Barcha Law Office, Lebanon; Studio Legale Corapi, Italy; Bryan, González Vargas & González Baz, Mexico; Odvetniška Družba Dobravc - Tatalovič & Kač, Slovenia; Coan Payton & Payne PLC, Denver, USA; and Gottlieb Gera Engel & Co Advocates, Israel.
Next, guest speaker Eugenia Navarro of Tama Projects, Barcelona, Spain, who has wide experience as a business consultant in the legal services sector, made a very illuminating presentation, with videos, called ”Trends in the legal sector, time to innovate in business models and products”. It gave us much to think about other law firm’s tactics (as publicly visible on the internet) especially in connection with our own business strategy model and future growth plans.
In the afternoon on Friday, Peter Kirpensteijn, Kiveld International Lawyers, The Netherlands & James Badcock, Collyer Bristow, Switzerland made a topical presentation (at the time) called: “Panama? Nothing wrong with that country, is there?”, which was an insight into the Panama Papers plus Base Erosion and Profit Shifting measures referencing the recent the Starbucks, McDonalds and others ‘tax planning’ structures.
On Saturday morning after the Annual General Assembly of World Link for Law, there was a presentation about the future strategy plans of World Link (which had been circulated before the meeting), with opinions obtained by the members’ present, which were noted and circulated to all the members later with the notes and Minutes from the General Assembly.
Before lunch, after the coffee break there was a presentation on comparative law and the admissibility of evidence before a commercial court in different jurisdictions – with presentations from a USA, French and German perspective. Philippe Bedard & Emmanuelle Chouaib-Martinelli, KBRC & Associés, France, Charles Valente, Krasnow Saunders Kaplan & Beninati, LLP, USA & Caroline Havemann, Dolce Lauda, Germany made great contributions.
On Thurday afternoon, there were also an International Arbitration group and International Tax group meetings. The Arbitration group meeting included a presentation by Patricia Saiz, Professor of International Arbitration & Director of International Relations, ESADE Law School, Barcelona, Spain, making a presentation about recent developments in international

Xavier Trias, former Mayor of Barcelona, officially opens the conference Jordi Sellares (Secretary General, ICC Spain)
Eugenia Navarro of Tama Projects, Barcelona, Spain. The LATAM group who had a meeting before the conference
“It was my first conference. It was good that it is not a huge group so there is a real opportunity to develop business relationships with other members, but also feel part of a large team with similar experiences.”          
Fadi Barcha, Barcha Law Office, Beirut, Lebanon.                                                 
“It was really nice to meet some of the lawyers that we have been doing business with for clients; and to get a broader flavour of various aspects of international law.”
Leath Nicholson, Foster Nicholson Jones Lawyers, Melbourne, Australia.
“Everybody was really friendly and welcoming. It was my first conference and a very pleasant experience, which exceeded my expectations and thank you for the kind hospitality of Barcelona member firm Arasa & de Miquel, who helped make this journey memorable for us.” Ursula Cortes Gutierrez, Estudio Llona & Bustamante Abogados, Lima, Peru.
“Interesting presentations, inspiring discussions- it was a great pleasure for me to meet our colleagues from many parts of the world; and my wife and I really enjoyed the social aspects.” Miha Kač, Odvetniška Družba Dobravc - Tatalovič & Kač o.p., d.o.o. (DTK), Ljubljana, Slovenia.

Thursday– pre-conference dinner (12th May)
Before the conference on Wednesday evening there was a pre-conference dinner at the nearby Windsor restaurant on their private terrace area. The food was Catalan style including the traditional mushroom cannelloni and Catalan cream custard for desert. It was very pleasant to be able to eat and drink outside and meet existing and new friends and colleagues.

Friday – Reception and Gala Dinner (13th May)
On Friday morning the spouses and guests enjoyed a guided walking tour of the old town whilst the delegates were in conference
Before the gala dinner on Friday evening at the historic private club, Circulo Ecuestre, members were invited to go for a drink at the nearby, recently opened offices of member firm Arasa & de Miquel on Avenida Diagonal. Before the excellent dinner with local wines there were canapés and drinks in the members’ lounge of the club where we posed for group photographs on the imposing staircase. It was a very well attended gala dinner with over 100 delegates and their guests.
After Tony Firth managed to include the wrong Catalan flag in the famous after dinner quiz(!), we were entertained by a group of Catalan folk musicians, kindly arranged by Julio de Miquel and his partners. It was great fun and we enjoyed the short walk back to the hotel in the Spring evening air, whilst others headed off for some ‘nightlife’.

Saturday –excursion (14th May) – Sagrada Familia
On Saturday afternoon our bus arrived to take 55 of us to Sagrada Família for a guided tour (with two guides and radio microphones) to this landmark of Barcelona.

Sunday–excursion (15th May)
Many people left for home on Saturday or travelled onto other business connections in Spain or in Europe. About 25 of us joined our guide and bus for our tour to Montserrat, about one hour drive from Barcelona. We were due to catch a mountain train to the monastery ‘village’ of Montserrat. Unfortunately, we were advised a few days before of a train drivers strike so we had to go to Montserrat by bus. Everybody else was doing the same thing so the mountain road was very busy, so we had very little time in Montserrat. But as we knew there was going to be a problem we had arranged to go to Colonia Güell, before, an industrial textile village created in the late 19th Century and also the place where Gaudi had started to create a church but only completed the crypt. It was hopefully an interesting addition to the tour.

After re-joining our bus in the parking area at Montserrat, we had a very pleasant and high quality lunch back down in the valley in Saint Sadurni at the Mirador les Caves restaurant, before heading back to the hotel in Barcelona.
Roland Meuwissen (Netherlands); Roy Engel (Israel) and Peter Kirpensteijn (Netherlands) get a well-deserved drink after disembarking the bus in a traffic jam to get up to the centre of Montserrat. The picturesque Montserrat which is home to the ‘Black Madonna’.


Thank you to a professional photographer from Barcelona, Arianna Giménez who took photographs during the conference circulated to delegates after the conference via ‘FlickR’.

See you in New York, May 11-13, 2017


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