How did you get involved in international arbitration?
I first became involved in international arbitration because a UK domiciled client was locked into a contractual dispute with an overseas counterparty. The contract was governed by English law and the parties had agreed through an express term in the contract to resolve all disputes through mandatory arbitration. The seat of the arbitration was London and the parties had further agreed that they would engage through the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA). Since then, we have worked on numerous disputes with cross border and global commerce elements which were well suited to being driven through international arbitration.
What differentiates international arbitration from the other forms of dispute resolution?
When comparing international arbitration with some national courts, we have found that the key attributes of arbitration can include; expertise of the arbitrator, speed, privacy and ease of enforcement (where parties to the dispute are in a jurisdiction signed up to the New York Convention).
Describe your most memorable experience in international arbitration? (Whether it be satisfying or challenging)
My most memorable experience in international arbitration arose out of a dispute with an African counterparty where the efficiency of the process ensured that there was a quick and cost-effective resolution within the client's budget expectation. It was a great advert for arbitration over litigation which could have taken years to determine through national courts.
What's your best piece of advice for clients when it comes to international arbitration?
Agree early with business stakeholders and the legal team on the strategy that will best fit the client's parameters for resolution and/or settlement. This will include having a clear understanding on process, duration, cost and whether the desired commercial outcome is likely to be achievable.
Name your top tip for when doing international arbitration
Treat the process like any other commercial project with an eye on key milestones and with opportunities to review whether the dispute strategy is working. In any commercial dispute, there will be pinch points at which clients will have to understand where they are on firm ground and where they may have an achilles heel. The analysis of risk is an ongoing process for the client and legal team involved in managing the dispute.