1. How did you get Involved in International Arbitration?

I was initially asked to become part of a legal team who were representing a party to an arbitration seated in Dubai between a Japanese building contractor and a government authority. I thereafter spent four years based in Dubai acting on a number of international arbitrations across the UAE, Egypt and Iraq.

2. What key advantage does International Arbitration offer?

It offers certainty for contracting parties operating in foreign jurisdictions that disputes which may arise can be referred to a recognised dispute resolution process, as opposed to disputes being referred to a local court who one (or even both parties) may be unfamiliar.

Transportability of arbitral awards is another key advantage where an arbitral award is final, binding and enforceable internationally under international treaties. It also offers flexibility where the dispute resolution process can be tailored to suit the needs and requirements of parties, including the composition, size, nationality and specialisms of the arbitral tribunal.

3. Describe your most memorable experience in International Arbitration? (Whether it be satisfying or challenging)

My first trial before a three-person arbitral tribunal was particularly memorable. The case was complex, involving many factual, technical and local law expert witnesses, with the trial bundle being so large that when produced in hard copy it took up three sides of the conference suite that was the venue for the trial.

What was striking was the truly international dimension to the proceedings. Participants were drawn from numerous different nationalities across the world and the trial was the first opportunity that the tribunal, legal representatives and witnesses had all met together in person in Dubai. Legal considerations (including local law requirements) were only one component of the trial, where the cultural and language differences of participants also had to be navigated and catered for. It was particularly rewarding to see all of the components come together successfully.

4. Name your top tip for when doing International Arbitration

Ensuring that the arbitration agreement is drafted effectively. The arbitration agreement is the foundation for international arbitration. Typically, this would take the form of an arbitration clause in the contract. It can also take the form of a separate agreement.

Whilst parties generally do not contract on the basis that they will be in dispute in the future, care should nevertheless be taken when preparing an arbitration agreement to not only ensure that it is valid and binding, but also that it reflects the requirements of the parties. Matters which parties can consider in this regard include such things as its scope, seat of the arbitration, governing law, choice of rules and language of the proceedings. Without proper consideration being given, parties could find themselves with an arbitration process which is ill-suited to their needs or even an arbitration agreement which is not valid.


Keith Kilburn

Legal Director