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The global fight against economic crime will be bolstered by increased enforcement powers and a reinvigorated enforcement impetus in many jurisdictions. Particular international focus has been placed on initiatives to increase transparency and fight money laundering, although bribery and corruption remain important targets for enforcement authorities.
As well as these major themes, there are important legal and procedural reforms in Belgium, France and Poland. As part of these, Belgium is proposing to be one of the first countries to introduce a crime of “ecocide” and Poland has introduced an offence for professional fund managers who cause economic damage.
We cannot fail to acknowledge what an active year 2023 was in the field of ESG disputes and regulation. Across the globe businesses set ESG policy high on their list of priorities and many of the trends we saw develop over the last 12 months will continue. Greenwashing and climate claims are set to increase, along with developments in human rights and environmental actions. New disclosure rules in the EU and the USA are also on the horizon, as well as new guidance in several jurisdictions setting out expectations to mitigate ESG risk.
The ability to bring collective claims varies enormously by jurisdiction but several countries are legislating to liberalise collective actions. There is also a growing acceptance of third-party financial backing for claims which is leading to further developments and regulation within national regimes. Competition collective actions continue to be popular, where available, because of the far-reaching effects that competition breaches can be alleged to have, and the binding status of regulatory decisions in many jurisdictions.
Courts around the world are adapting to the digital changes in wider society. From courts’ perspectives, new technology and the shifting expectations of court users both enable and necessitate investing in technology, such as integrated online court systems, to make litigation more efficient and improve access to justice. Legal systems also increasingly need to ensure that they are prepared to deal with new kinds of digital and AI disputes.
Courts across the globe are increasingly recognising the value of alternative and negotiated methods of dispute resolution (ADR) and are actively encouraging their use. In some cases, an attempt must be made at a form of ADR before parties are permitted to commence court proceedings while in others the use of ADR, and in particular mediation, is being generally encouraged. Meanwhile, states continue to sign and ratify the Singapore Convention on Mediation, expanding the importance of mediation as a method of international dispute resolution.
The imposition of financial and trade sanctions by global governments is set to remain a hot topic, with Russia-related sanctions continuing to dominate developments. 2024 is likely to see an increase in both the number of restrictions to dealings with sanctioned jurisdictions and persons, and enforcement actions relating to sanctions and their breach. With more sanctions set to follow in 2024, there is likely to be a focus on trade in high priority items and the steps that can be taken to prevent exporters circumventing restrictions.
2023 was marked by an ever-changing economic, political and financial climate worldwide which led to a wide range of disputes, many of which are being resolved by arbitration. 2024 will see developments in legislative reforms of arbitration rules across a several jurisdictions, along with modernisation of a number of arbitral institutions rules. New arbitration centres in Lisbon and Paris are also indicative of the continued growth of the international arbitration community.