1. How did you get Involved in International Arbitration?

International arbitration is becoming the dispute resolution forum of choice for many businesses and so it was natural that I would become involved in international arbitration as a litigator. My initial experience of arbitration was in Sydney, where I had the opportunity to cut my teeth on a large-scale arbitration in respect of a major infrastructure project.

On joining Brodies, my practice quickly became focussed on international arbitration. This reflects the fact that many of our clients operate across international boundaries (for whom arbitration is especially attractive). I have been involved in arbitrations about anything from a distribution agreement relating to an international vodka brand to a dispute between Greek and Liberian parties in relation to an oil sale agreement.

2. Describe the benefits of International Arbitration in 3 words?

Customisable, enforceability, expertise.

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

My most memorable experience was participating in the first fully virtual trial that any of the parties' legal teams (including at Brodies) had been involved in the summer of 2020. We had been just a few months from trial when the pandemic forced parties to make an early decision about how they wished to progress in the circumstances. Witnesses, counsel and the tribunal were all streamed in to a specialist platform.

It was a steep learning curve but showed what was possible with the available technology. The trial went smoothly and our client's witnesses performed spectacularly well (something which is always sure to put a smile on a litigator's face). It is, of course, so memorable in part because of the strange times in which it was taking place, but mostly it stands out because I had never imagined that trial could take place only in cyberspace.

The arbitral institutions are continuing to look at ways to harness available technology for the benefit of those who use arbitration. The International Chamber of Commerce has recently launched a new report to provide guidance in relation to leveraging technology for fair, effective, and efficient international arbitration proceedings.

4. Name your top tip for when doing International Arbitration

Have a well-drafted arbitration clause. One of the main benefits of international arbitration is that it is a bespoke process and it is open to parties to customise the procedure to suit their particular requirements or to suit the specific type of agreement. This presents opportunities, for example, to limit the extent of any document production or disclosure: very often a time-consuming and expensive stage of procedure but one which is not always proportionate to the nature of the dispute (or the type of contract giving rise to the dispute). This is just one illustration of how parties can customise the arbitration clause to suit their needs.


Peter Begbie