2016 AGM Report
Hon. Secretary and Treasurer’s Report
I am pleased to report that our accounts show a dramatic turnround in our financial fortunes. After two successive years of losses, this year’s accounts are showing a substantial profit, in fact more than £7,500.
As you may recall from last year, faced with continuing losses and subscriptions which had been unaltered for almost 10 years, we took the decision to raise these to £150 for one year or £250 for two. Also, as subscription notices had traditionally been sent out towards the end, rather than at the beginning, of each financial year, we decided gradually to bring this date forward. So last year we collected these during the summer and intend this year despatching notices over the next few weeks. Whilst there is always the risk that, by increasing subscriptions, membership numbers will decline, this appears not to have happened, at least not to any degree. More under Membership report.
Last year, I made reference to broadening the Society’s subscription base by inviting corporate entities, notably but not exclusively, law firms, to subscribe as supporting members. In exchange for an annual contribution of £250 per firm, we offer greater prominence on our website as well as links to each member site and to the profiles of their contact personnel. I am pleased to report that, so far, some 15 companies have signed up. The opportunity is of course, still there for other companies to join – they would be most welcome and the process is quite simple – the relevant application form is on our website.
The net effect of these initiatives was an increased subscription income of just over £3,800. But this is not the only good news – we also made a substantial combined profit on last year’s Annual Conference and the Tutorials held last February. These together contributed more than £3,700. This compares very favourably with the small loss of just over £700 made on the previous year’s Conference (there having been no Tutorials last year). More on the Tutorials later.
So, all in all, we had a very good year with our Capital Account growing by more than 70% from less than £11,000 at the end of last year to more than £18,000 today.
As already mentioned, it is pleasing that the Membership of our Panel showed little signs of having been affected by the increase in membership fees. As at today’s date, we have 93 Panel Members, a net reduction of 5 over last year. During the year, 6 new Members were appointed. There were 11 lapses or resignations.
The largest discipline represented within our Membership is now law followed by underwriting. Other disciplines such as claims, broking and accountancy are relatively unchanged.
The actual numbers (excluding our Honorary Members) currently stand as follows:
Whilst most of our new Members are domiciled in the UK, it is pleasing to report that two of these are from overseas, one France and the other the USA. Taking two US resignations into account, our overseas membership, at 22, is almost a quarter of the total. Our current membership comes from:
and one each from Bermuda, Norway, Sweden and Spain. We are especially pleased to welcome those overseas members who are with us here today.
Of the overall Panel Membership, 89 Members currently feature on the Society’s website. This is exactly the same as last year. The number of Panel Members including their photographs on the website is currently 64 and, for those who have so far not taken the plunge, the opportunity is of course still there.
To assist with the selection of Panel Members willing to undertake sole arbitrator appointments either under our Fast Track Rules or otherwise, an “SA” logo appears against the website entry of each such Member. Currently, some 44 Members are so designated.
Now turning to website “hit rates” or “visits”. I am pleased to say that, as at the end of May, visitor numbers for this year to date were almost 13% up on the same period last year and are now averaging almost 600 per month. After the UK, the next largest areas from which visits were made were USA, Brazil, France and Germany. Between them, traffic from those markets increased by more than 50% over last year.
As always, we welcome suggestions as to any enhancements Members would like to see to the website.
Our last Tutorial having been held almost 5 years ago, in February this year we held two evening Tutorials chaired by our Chairman. These were well attended by a mixture of Panel Members and Supporting Member representatives, totalling 18 delegates in all. A number of leading barristers gave presentations on a wide range of subjects including the conduct of the arbitration, making awards and challenges to an award. The sessions closed with a panel discussion by four of our more experienced market practitioner arbitrators, 3 of whom I am pleased to say are with us today. We are very grateful to the course tutors for giving their time to prepare for and deliver their presentations and are indebted to Hogan Lovells for making its Atlantic House facilities available to us and at reasonable cost. Feedback since received from delegates has been very positive and, as already mentioned, the Society’s finances were boosted by the healthy profit made on the event.
Finally, the Society having been formed in 1991, we are this year celebrating our Silver Anniversary. To mark the occasion, we are holding an Anniversary Dinner on Thursday, 6th October, at the Worshipful Company of Innholders on College Hill. Catering at the Innholders is overseen by the three-times Michelin starred chef, Herbert Berger, who will be devising a suitable three course meal for the occasion. I am sure it will be delicious! The evening will close with an address by Lord Clarke. The price of £95 includes wine and coffee. As there are limited spaces available and tickets are going fast, anyone interested should make contact with David as soon as possible.
Hon. Secretary, Treasurer and Panel Member, ARIAS (UK)
10th June 2016.