It is a wonderful opportunity and privilege, to be appointed Rapporteur Général for the 24th UIHJ International Congress. Having been a Judicial Officer, in private practice in Scotland, for all my adult life, I have seen our profession deal with many challenges, be they domestic social problems, legislative or political issues. What I have found most remarkable, through my long association with UIHJ, is that I have never been alone, and the problems I have faced, have been similar if not identical to those of colleagues from all over the world. I have consistently found our global fraternity to be a real source of inspiration and motivation to succeed in my professional and private life.
It is, therefore, my great pleasure and welcome task, to work with President Marc Schmitz, our partners in Dubai Courts, and the rest of the Congress Organisation Team, to deliver an outstanding international Congress. As Rapporteur Général, it is my duty to ensure we provide you with a world-class venue, a fascinating and relevant scientific program, and of course a truly remarkable social and networking opportunity.
On the first count, my job has been made very easy by our colleagues in Dubai Courts, who have welcomed us to the UAE, specifically the city of Dubai which is easily one of the most dynamic and internationally accessible venues, for hosting such an event. The fact that our Congress coincides with the Dubai World Expo, makes this the perfect opportunity to visit this exciting and diverse city, where modern architecture, seamlessly integrates with a very rich and historic Arabic culture.
In terms of delivering a fascinating and relevant scientific program, again, you will not be disappointed. Our Congress Theme is:
Cyber Justice, New Opportunities for the Judicial Officer…
Under this mantra, we will explore how our profession has responded to the global COVID19 pandemic, by highlighting innovative best practices and how we have supported fair and effective justice, during this unprecedented international crisis.
We are already aware, that in many jurisdictions, civil and criminal justice systems have been forced to react by accelerating their justice digitization programs. We have seen emergency legislation to enable more effective online communication between courts and stakeholders. We have even seen a revolution in home working, which is unlikely to be reversed after the world returns to the new normal.
We will also focus on the impact of new, smart technologies which are developing so fast, that domestic legal systems are being left behind, specifically in relation to the cross-border claims and the invisible nature of digital assets.
Here, we will explore how Judicial Officers can best react, by better understanding emerging technologies such as Blockchain, Cryptocurrency, and other such technologies.
We will then go full circle, by returning to the human aspect of future enforcement, by identifying the key skills and attributes of the modern Judicial Officer, remembering that whilst more sophisticated IT systems will play an important role, by removing simple, repetitive processing and decision making. At, at some point, we will still need a technical expert with professional standards, human empathy, and genuine determination, to ensure that court judgments are properly enforced.
This blend of practical, futuristic, and human elements, will collectively deliver a diverse and fascinating scientific program, which will help you better understand and prepare for the challenges ahead, regardless of your location, function, or business environment.
Last but not least, we will deliver an unforgettable cultural and social experience. Dubai has now positioned itself as a worldwide superpower for tourism. The leisure options are quite literally breath-taking, and we will ensure that our Congress provides the ideal opportunity to experience many of Dubai’s exciting leisure opportunities, including a spectacular welcome party and gala night.
Looking ahead to November, we are quietly confident that the worst of the COVID nightmare, will soon be behind us. After a year of uncertainty, self-isolation, and imposed international travel restrictions, now is the time to look forward with a sense of hope and optimism. What better way to move on from this most unwelcome sabbatical, by coming together in our unique global forum.
On behalf of UIHJ Congress Team, I look forward to welcoming you to Dubai for what I am certain will be an outstanding international, scientific and cultural event.