In the autumn of this year I had the dubious pleasure of celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the publication of the Terms of Reference in an administered arbitration, which is still lumbering towards its own uncertain conclusion. At the time of our appointment as lawyers for one of the parties, which was shortly after the issue of the Terms of Reference, I toyed with the idea of proposing to my client a fixed fee for taking the case to conclusion. It seemed to me that this was quite a “cutting edge” concept at the time and I thought to myself that whilst the risk of such a course of action taken at the outset of hostilities could be very high, I mused that following close of pleadings and the crystallisation of the issues in dispute within the Terms of Reference, the task of assessing the likely future costs would not be beyond the whit of the reasonably experienced lawyer. I therefore felt that the risk of taking a bath on the fixed fee would not be that great. However, some little voice within me clearly counselled caution and as a result I did not make that proposal. Whilst this has saved me from a personal embarrassment and possible lynching by my partners, nevertheless my client has suffered because the case has taken a course which nobody could have predicted at the time when the Terms of Reference were agreed.

I have just returned from a family holiday in India, our first visit together although I am a frequent business traveller there. Apart from the beauty and vibrancy of the country and its people, what struck me most was that when travelling on business one is so very removed from the real life of the…