International organisations are important conduits for the exchange of knowledge – your letters to the editor of the Gazette

As president of the Union Internationale des Avocats (UIA) UK National Committee, I read with concern Jonathan Goldsmith’s column (‘Knowing our place’, 30 October). The dismissive few lines devoted to the UIA utterly failed to capture the attributes and benefits of an organisation of which I have been a member for almost two decades, and created a false picture of a body that in these uncertain times is potentially of great benefit to individuals and firms within the UK, as well as to the UK as a whole.

At its recent congress in Toronto, the UIA provided simultaneous translation in three languages for all its main theme sessions. The predominant working language for meetings is English. Members from over 100 countries attended the congress. There were over 30 working sessions covering key subjects: from the Labour Law and Criminal Law commissions debating employee rights and obligations in internal investigations; the Media Law Commission considering whether there is such a thing as responsible journalism; to the Sports Law Commission looking at arbitration and governance in sports. The main themes of the congress were natural resource exploitation: business and human rights; and biotechnology: privacy and the rights of the digital person.

International organisations such as the UIA are important conduits for the exchange of knowledge and the creation of valuable business relationships through professional and social interaction. The Law Society recognises the value of the UIA to its members and is

seeking to forge closer links at high levels within the respective organisations, as part of its international development initiative in the light of the Brexit referendum. The UIA is actively engaging with those approaches.

Every  international organisation will have its adherents. Finding  one that works for a particular individual is more of an art than a science. Some will be drawn to an organisation dominated by the major UK and US firms. Some will be drawn to a body, such as the UIA, that provides an alternative, friendlier touch, and a different approach, while still fulfilling the needs of members by expanding both their knowledge and their business contacts among firms of all sizes that share their international outlook.

Mark Watson, Partner, Fox Williams, London EC2; president, UK National Committee, Union Internationale des Avocats