How did you get involved in international arbitration?

I first got involved in International Arbitration as a junior lawyer in 2010, when I was asked to be part of a team acting for a client in a major arbitration before the London Court of International Arbitration. All of my dispute resolution experience up to that point had been before the English Courts, but I was part of an experienced team who were able to help me up the learning curve so that I could transfer my traditional court skills and experience into a new forum.

In recent years as part of Brodies' growing IA practice I have led teams in a number of international arbitrations across a range of sectors and involving diverse jurisdictions. This has given me the opportunity, in turn, to introduce junior colleagues to International Arbitration for the first time.

Describe the benefits of international arbitration in 3 words?

Certainty, flexibility, confidentiality.

Describe your most memorable experience in international arbitration? (Whether it be satisfying or challenging)

In June 2020, three months into the first COVID-19 lockdown, we conducted a fully virtual trial for a client in an LCIA Arbitration. COVID restrictions meant a traditional in-person trial was impossible, so our client faced the choice between postponing the trial indefinitely or pressing ahead with a virtual trial.

The trial was due to last a week and involve cross-examination of several witnesses, but we worked closely with the client, counsel, witnesses and service providers to ensure a successful hearing. To accomplish this when the world was still adapting to remote working, and the courts remained largely closed for business, was a great achievement for the Brodies team.

What's your best piece of advice for clients when it comes to international arbitration?

When entering into an international commercial arrangement, pause to think about how you would want a dispute with your counterparty to be handled. What are the things that could go wrong? What jurisdictions might be involved? What would your priorities be in those situations?

This will allow you to explore the dispute resolution options available, and help ensure that you select the right one for your situation. In cross-border business, international arbitration should always be considered, and parties can choose from a variety of arbitral rules – whether institutional or bespoke – that ensure their disputes are handled sensitively and effectively.

Name your top tip for when doing international arbitration

Be ready for anything. International arbitration is often less bound by rules and custom than traditional litigation. Parties might behave in ways they would not before a Court, and even in the biggest dispute events can move extremely quickly. This is all part of the fun of international arbitration, provided you're ready to act or react flexibly and quickly to put your client's best foot forward


Jared Oyston