Author: Loukas Mistelis*
Published: August 2012
Description: Hans Smit was a towering figure, both literally and intellectually, in international law and arbitration and was one of the most memorable academics at Columbia Law School, serving the school for well more than 50 years. Amongst his major achievements I am tempted to highlight that he has been a pioneer in so many respects in spotting where the law was developing and identifying major areas of research focus. He was, inter alia, the founder and the Director of the Project on International Procedure (1960-1968); Project on European Legal Institutions (1965-1977); Parker School of Foreign and Comparative Law (1980- 1998); Center for International Arbitration and Litigation Law (1997-2005); and Center for East European Law (1998-2005). I came to know him better when he was passing the baton in the marathon relay race, known amongst friends as the “WAR.”
In all his work Hans Smit was fully aware of conflict of laws issues and the role of comparative law; he also helped immensely in promoting arbitration in the United States and making New York a hub for the study, practice and research in international arbitration. Indeed, the U.S. was enriched shortly before and after World War II with the influx of well educated, sophisticated jurists with a solid grounding in civil law and significant thirst and enthusiasm for common law. Some of them contributed to the establishment of international arbitration in the United States. And most certainly, Hans Smit belongs to these cosmopolitan and internationally well versed jurists who have not only educated generations but also formulated and shaped various areas of the law, including international arbitration. It is hence paramount to provide some thoughts on arbitration law and the arbitral seat and also to attempt a preliminary assessment as to why New York …
*LLB, MLE, Dr iuris, Attorney (Greece) and Barrister (England and Wales), Clive M. Schmitthoff Professor of Transnational Commercial Law and Arbitration and the Director of the School of International Arbitration, Centre for Commercial Law Studies, Queen Mary University of London.