International Arbitration: Corporate Attitudes and Practices – The Business Rationale* – Vol. 19 No. 3-4

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Author: Gerry Lagerberg**

Published: December 2009

Practice and Procedure

Description: PricewaterhouseCoopers (“PwC”) sponsored two research projects by Professor Loukas Mistelis and his team at the School of International Arbitration, Queen Mary, University of London1 under the title International Arbitration: Corporate Attitudes and Practices. As the name indicates, the studies were directed at gathering empirical evidence, quantitative data and qualitative views from general counsel at corporations around the world. Those corporations comprise a substantial and influential section of the users of international arbitration. Put another way, they provide much of the demand that the international arbitration practitioners seek to supply. Users pay practitioners’ fees and, while that does not entitle users to call arbitration’s tune, practitioners appear keen to understand and, at times be influenced by, the users’ views, experience and satisfaction of the international arbitration process.

This article looks at the drivers behind the research and some of the messages that business users gave. It is clear that the research has facilitated an informed dialogue between users and practitioners over a dispute resolution process that can provide benefits to corporations and their international activities. This article will not comment on the findings in detail as those are covered elsewhere in this issue.

By way of background, the first study, in 2006, was focused on corporate counsel’s views on international arbitration generally: what they perceived as the advantages and disadvantages, the formality of their policies and practices in embedding international arbitration in their corporations’ contracts, etc. The second study, completed in 2008, focused mostly on the outcome of international arbitration proceedings and, in particular, corporate counsels’ experience of the enforcement of arbitral awards. That the findings coincided with the 50th anniversary of the 1958 New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards was opportune. Although enforcement only occurs in a minority of cases, the enforceability of awards is an underlying principle of international arbitration. Gauging corporate counsels’ experience of enforcement was therefore directed to the soundness of a fundamental tenet on which the efficacy and integrity of the international arbitration process rely.

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*Special Section on the 2008 Survey on Corporate Attitudes Towards Recognition and Enforcement of International Arbitral Awards
**Gerry Lagerberg is a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP in London and led PwC’s sponsorship of the research by Professor Mistelis and his team that resulted in the 2006 and 2008 studies.