Divorce and Family partner Lisette Dupré and Commercial Litigation partner Elaina Bailes were among 500 lawyers from more than 50 countries who gathered for the AIJA International Young Lawyers’ Congress in Rio between 20 and 26 August. This year’s theme was rethinking the law in four dimensions, which called upon speakers to think more about how the law may develop in the next five years than simply looking at how it stands today.

At the end of the congress, a ‘time capsule’ recording of each panellist’s predictions and solutions was created, which will be opened at the 66th congress in 2028.


AI in dispute resolution

Elaina participated in a lively debate regarding the use of AI in dispute resolution, with speakers from Brazil, Canada, China and the UK. The panel speculated about the issues arising if parties were to agree to an AI arbitrator determining their dispute, including the right to appeal, liability for error and data privacy issues.

Elaina’s view is that as lawyers, we need to recognise we are behind other industries in embracing the use of AI, which is perhaps not surprising given we are trained to identify legal risk. To accept AI into the dispute resolution process, we need to accept that our current judicial and arbitration systems may not be suitable since they are premised around the concept of a judge performing a human legal analysis after being presented with a summary of the relevant evidence, with parties using lawyers to advocate their case. Those processes become less useful if an AI arbitrator performs a data analysis.


Asset protection in insolvency

Lisette and her co-speakers from Brazil, Panama, the Czech Republic, the USA and Switzerland looked at the role of asset protection in insolvency. Their case study concerned a same-sex international couple, an infidelity, a Panamanian foundation and a company insolvency. Trends identified by the panellists and the attendees during the discussion included how the matrimonial property regime or nuptial agreement was, in some cases, pivotal when considering whether the creditors of a company could seek recompense from the spouse of the majority shareholder. The case study highlighted the number of countries still yet to allow or even recognise same-sex relationships, including Panama. And, once again, how the highly discretionary nature of the English court’s power on divorce to divide the assets is in stark contrast to many civil law jurisdictions, where the parties usually choose clear rules at the point of marriage.

The case study clearly caused a stir as many attendees approached the panellists after the session to share their views on how the case study would have worked out in their jurisdiction, with one German lawyer convinced the solution would have been simple. Panamanian foundations have proven to be popular vehicles for asset protection for those in same-sex marriages or relationships and those wishing to preserve assets for family members. This is due to their independent legal status and the strict three-year rule restricting the ability to challenge transfers into such foundations.


AIJA and the International Young Lawyers’ Congress

The International Association of Young Lawyers (AIJA) is the only global association devoted to lawyers and in-house counsel aged 45 and under. Established in 1962, AIJA has grown to encompass 4,000 members and supporters in 100+ different countries.

AIJA explained the “law in four dimensions” theme of this year’s Congress: “In an increasingly changing world, our clients face new challenges and legal issues every day. Lawyers are often called in after the fact, and their role is then limited to reacting to these issues, either by mitigating damages or by finding legal solutions to address the impacts on clients’ business models.

Three dimensions appear to be enough for a lawyer to be precisely located in space. With our legal expertise, experience, and skills, we go a long way in advising our clients on their current issues. But we ask you to take a step further, and pro-actively anticipate and devise the legal solutions to clients’ challenges of tomorrow. To think in 4D is to move through space and time to approach an issue not only from all possible angles, but also from all possible time perspectives. It is more than thinking out-of-the-box. It is getting out of that box and crushing it by rethinking issues in light of the past and the present. By thinking in 4D, we can shape tomorrow’s legal reality with our predictions.”



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