A Practitioner’s Observations on the Resolution of International Commercial Disputes – Vol. 3 No. 1-4

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AuthorLawrence W. Newman*


Arbitrators and Arbitral Tribunals
Categories of Disputes
Commercial Disputes
Arbitral Awards
Appeal to Arbitral Tribunal and Annulment
Dispute Resolution and Litigation
Practice and Procedure

Description: This essay is a contribution to a liber amicorum for Hans Smit, a man whom I greatly admire. I am proud to have been considered one of the amici who are contributors to this book. What follows is an effort to distill various observations I have made over the years, both publicly and privately, on the process of international commercial arbitration as it is worked out in the real world.

Business disputes of an international character have been part of my professional life for nearly two decades. The observations set out here represent what I would say to clients or colleagues who are not familiar with international arbitration and other means of resolving international commercial disputes. These thoughts have pertinence primarily for the businessman (and his advisor) who is afforded the opportunity at the drafting stage of negotiating the means of resolving disputes expected to arise out of a contract. I have tried to convey what, among the various procedures available for resolving disputes — litigation, arbitration and negotiation-based alternative dispute resolution techniques — makes the most practical sense.

The dispute resolution mechanisms that are available have as their ultimate objective the achieving of just results with a minimum expenditure of time and money. The central theme of this discussion is the extent to which various forms of dispute resolution achieve the objectives of the aspirational motto of the American Arbitration Association: “Speed, economy and justice.” My judgment is that commercial arbitration more frequently meets these objectives than does the judicial process. Accordingly, the bulk of this essay focuses on arbitration.

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*Partner, Baker & McKenzie, where he is Chairman of the Litigation Department of the New York office.