Michael Hwang won a scholarship to Oxford University and read law at undergraduate and post graduate levels. He taught law at the University of Sydney before commencing private practice in 1968 at Allen & Gledhill (now Singapore’s largest law firm) where he practiced for over 30 years, except for 1991 to 1992 when he served as a Judicial Commissioner (Fixed Term Judge) of the Supreme Court.
This chapter identifies ten questions that an international arbitration practitioner should take pains to avoid in cases concerning contractual interpretation and breach. The recommended abstinence applies mainly to cross-examination where the governing law is common law, but the majority of the questions from which Counsel should abstain in common law should in most cases be likewise avoided during cross-examination where the arbitration is governed by civil law. The lesson to bear in mind is that, in his preparation for cross-examination, Counsel must have a firm grasp of his case theory, before trying to establish the facts that are the foundation stones of that theory. He must first understand the rules of contractual interpretation and contractual breach (these being the two most common issues in practice), and focus his mind on the significance of questioning witnesses in contract cases and whether certain questions should be asked. Even where questions are permissible, they may not be (1) relevant to the legal issues at hand, or (2) helpful to the Tribunal in deciding the key issues.