George A Bermann
Office:
435 West 116th Street
10027
City:
New York
State:
New York
Country:
USA
Tel:
+1 212 854 4258
Fax:
+1 212 854 7946

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Arbitration

George Bermann is professor at Columbia Law School where he directs the Center for International Commercial and Investment Arbitration (CICIA). He is also an active international commercial and investment arbitrator, serving in scores of international disputes, as chair, as party-appointed arbitrator and as solo arbitrator, before all the leading arbitral institutions. He is chair of the global advisory board of the New York International Arbitration Center (NYIAC), council member of the American Arbitration Association (AAA), director of the Center for Conflict Prevention and Resolution (CPR), and member of the standing committee of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT SITTING AS ARBITRATOR?

What I most enjoy is having the opportunity to adjudicate disputes in a procedural setting suffused with party autonomy.

WHAT IS THE MAIN REASON PARTIES FILE POST-AWARD APPLICATIONS? IS IT HARDER NOW TO ENFORCE ARBITRAL AWARDS THAN IT WAS PREVIOUSLY?

The filing of post-award applications is more common now than ever. I believe it is largely viewed as a new arbitration phase, taking place well before annulment or challenges to enforcement, in which parties disappointed with an award can seek a better result.

ARBITRAL CENTRES IN ASIA-PACIFIC, PARTICULARLY SINGAPORE, ARE NOW BATTLING WITH THE MORE ESTABLISHED CENTRES FOR MARKET DOMINANCE. ARE WE LIKELY TO SEE A FURTHER SHIFT IN THE MARKET TOWARDS THOSE COMPETITOR JURISDICTIONS?

I believe so. In my view the Asia-Pacific arbitral institutions are showing a keen aptitude for and commitment to innovation, even by the high standards of institutions elsewhere in the world. I expect this to continue to and to enhance those centres’ attractiveness.

YOU HAVE OVER 40 YEARS OF EXPERIENCE IN ARBITRATION. WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST SIGNIFICANT PROCEDURAL OR SUBSTANTIVE CHANGE IN THE FIELD OVER THAT TIME?

The most salient procedural change I observe is the determination of arbitral institutions to find new ways to render arbitral decision-making more efficient and economical. Substantively, I would identify the dramatically greater incidence of non-contractual claims in international arbitration.

HAS THE TIME COME FOR A BINDING CODE OF ETHICS ON THE CONDUCT OF ADVOCATES AND COUNSEL IN ARBITRATION?

I think the time has come, due to the prolonged uncertainty over the national professional ethical regimes to which international arbitrators and counsel are subject.

WHAT PROGRESS HAS BEEN MADE IN RECENT YEARS ON PERFECTING ARBITRATION PROCEDURE? WHAT ISSUES STILL NEED TO BE ADDRESSED?

The biggest issue – indeed, challenge – is identifying techniques whereby tribunals can insist on procedural economy despite parties’ demands for greater procedural rights and opportunities without exposing their awards to serious risks of annulment or denial of enforcement on procedural due process grounds.

IS INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION A FORCE FOR GOOD IN GLOBAL TRADE AND COMMERCE? 

Unquestionably so. Global trade and commerce depend heavily on the availability of international dispute resolution mechanisms in which parties can have confidence, and measurably greater confidence than they would have in their contracting partner’s home court.

WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE THING THAT YOUR TIME AT COLUMBIA LAW SCHOOL HAS GIVEN YOU?

Columbia, and any fine law school, offers the exceptionally valuable opportunity to marry theory and practice in international dispute resolution. Academic and practical work in this field is immensely mutually beneficial. We are producing better young arbitration practitioners as a result and doing so is exceptionally gratifying.

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Lawyers

George A Bermann is professor of law at Columbia Law School, teaching international commercial and investment arbitration, transnational litigation, EU law, and comparative law. He directs Columbia’s Center for International Commercial and Investment Arbitration (CICIA).

He is professeur affilié at the Law School of Sciences Po in Paris, and teaches regularly in the MIDS programme in Geneva and at Georgetown Law Center.

Bermann is an experienced international arbitrator, in both commercial and investor-state cases, in both institutional and ad hoc arbitrations, and both as party-appointed and chair. He frequently serves as counsel and expert witness in litigation and arbitration alike.

He earned BA and JD degrees from Yale University and a masters in law from Columbia. Following several years of law practice in New York with Davis Polk & Wardwell, he entered into law teaching, legal scholarship and arbitration practice.

Bermann is co-chair of the board of advisors of the New York International Arbitration Center (NYIAC), founding member of the governing board of the ICC Court of International Arbitration, co-author with Emmanuel Gaillard of the UNCITRAL Guide to the New York Convention, and chief reporter of the American Law Institute’s Restatement on the US Law of International Commercial Arbitration. He is co-editor-in-chief with Rob Smit of the American Review of International Arbitration and chair of the executive editorial board of the Columbia Journal of European Law. He is widely published through books and articles on international dispute resolution (including arbitration), private international law and EU law.

Bermann arbitrates in English and French, and in the full range of international disputes.

WWL says: George Bermann is "one of the big names" in the US market and is widely considered to be an "excellent arbitrator" by impressed sources.‚Äč

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Arbitration which can be purchased from our Shop.

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