Author: Christos Ravanides*
Published: February 2009
Standard and Model Arbitration Clauses
When, back in the days of gods and heroes, Eris, the ill-natured goddess of discord, was left out of the nuptuals of Peleus and Thetis – the soon-to-be mother of Achilles – because of her quarrelsome manners, she decided to make her absence felt: enraged, she tossed into the feast a golden apple inscribed with the word “kallistei” (“to the fairest”). A heated argument erupted among Hera, Athena and Aphrodite, each claiming the beauty prize for herself, and the Olympians were asked to settle the vexed issue. Zeus decided not to intervene – instead, he nominated the son of the king of Troy, reputed for his honesty, as arbiter. Paris accepted the appointment, but at the hearing on Mount Ida was confronted with irresistible offers from the contestants, each vying for the judge’s favor. Hera pledged wealth and kingship, Athena wisdom and martial renown, yet Aphrodite, unsurprisingly, won by promising him the love of the most beautiful woman on earth, Helen of Sparta. Paris awarded the golden apple to Venus, earning, unluckily for him and his homeland, the enmity of the losing parties.
The aftermath of that infamous ruling is well-known: Helen’s abduction led to the Trojan War, which inspired Homer to compose the Iliad. The judgment of Paris, however, is also one of the first accounts of an arbitration proceeding, in the sense of “a method of dispute resolution involving one or more neutral third parties who are usually agreed to by the disputing parties and whose decision is binding” – albeit one tainted with graft (and lust). Historically speaking, “alternative dispute resolution” (“ADR”) indeed preceded the advent of statesponsored justice. Arbitration was widely used in ancient Greece and Rome and later in medieval Europe to settle territorial, maritime or commercial differences.
*Law clerk to the Honorable Wilfred Feinberg, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit; J.D., 2006, LL.M., 2004, Columbia Law School, LL.M., 2003, LL.B. 2001, Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. An earlier version of this essay won the Columbia Law School E. B. Convers Prize for the best essay on an original legal subject. The author is grateful to Professor Hans Smit of Columbia Law School for his guidance and unrelenting support. The author also thanks Fernando Szterling, Juliana Correia de Araújo, Eduardo A. T. Boulos and Toshiki Enomoto for helpful discussions and invaluable assistance in researching foreign law issues, and the editors of The American Review of International Arbitration for their conscientious work and insightful comments.