Charles N Brower
Office:
20 Essex Street
WC2R 3AL
City:
London
Country:
England
Tel:
+44 20 7842 1200
Fax:
+44 20 7842 1270

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Arbitration

Charles Brower is judge ad hoc of the International Court of Justice (2014–); judge of the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal (1983–); former judge ad hoc of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights; arbitrator member, 20 Essex Street Chambers (2001–); former acting legal adviser of the United States Department of State; former deputy special counsellor to the president of the United States; former president of the American Society of International Law; chair of the Institute for Transnational Arbitration; and member of the board of governors of the American Bar Association.

WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WORKING IN INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION?

The constant and varying intellectual challenges presented by a range of cases, while having no other duty than to do one’s very best to determine what is the right answer. In addition, one meets a lot of interesting people.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO COME TO 20 ESSEX STREET AFTER MANY YEARS AT A LEADING INTERNATIONAL LAW FIRM?

White & Case had a mandatory retirement age of the end of the year in which one would turn 65, which in my case was 2000. While some exceptions were made, I was ready basically to become a full-time international arbitrator and therefore sought what I described as a “respectable professional address” from which to practise, which Ied to my joining 20 Essex Street Chambers. After that deal had been sealed, White & Case asked me to continue in some capacity with the firm, so for about five more years, I was special counsel to the firm while also being an arbitrator member of Chambers. At the very last minute, in 2000 I was appointed by the outgoing Clinton administration to return to the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal, having served as a judge there between 1983 and 1988 by appointment of the Reagan administration.

WHAT MEASURES COULD BE TAKEN TO IMPROVE ON AND PERFECT ARBITRAL PROCEDURE? 

I could say, “Always have a tribunal in which all three arbitrators soon can’t remember which co-arbitrator was appointed by which party and before which all counsel behave impeccably and argue their cases well.” To your question, however, perhaps it’s more appropriate to say “Shorter, well-written memorials and other written submissions, no abusive challenges, less extravagant requests for production of documents and no ‘scorched-earth defences.’” Either way, it comes down to involving truly professional, utterly ethical arbitrators and counsel.

WHAT IS THE GREATEST CHALLENGE PRESENTED BY SITTING AS AN ARBITRATOR IN A HIGH-STAKES ARBITRATION?

Understanding “high-stakes” to mean both high-value and high-political sensitivities, the greatest challenge, apart from the usual one of arriving at the right answer, is to draft the award so as to inform the parties and the involved public in as understandable language as possible the reasons for the decision and in terms that reflect appreciation of the sensitivities involved.

WHAT REPUTATION DOES INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION HAVE WITHIN THE US AS AN EFFECTIVE FORM OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION? HOW DOES IT COMPARE TO ITS REPUTATION IN OTHER JURISDICTIONS?

I think its reputation in the United States is very good, as I observe it is in other countries. As my recent experience as an observer delegate in UNCITRAL’s Working Group III strongly confirms, however, some countries have become far more interested in protecting their national treasuries than in supporting their own nationals investing abroad, or, in the case of developing countries, than inviting foreign investment. The relentless campaign of the EC to establish an International Investment Court composed of judges appointed exclusively by states or international organisations, to which I have referred as a “15-headed Hydra”, both make progress with some states and is frankly reviled by others. Thus the waters are being unfairly muddied by people ideologically intent on destroying the current means of resolving investor-State disputes via international arbitration.

YOU CURRENTLY SERVE AS A JUDGE AD HOC AT THE INTERNATIONAL COURT OF JUSTICE. WHAT IS THE MOST VALUABLE LESSON YOUR TIME SITTING THERE HAS TAUGHT YOU?

It simply has confirmed what was said among us young government officials in Washington, DC in the early 1970s when any of us was to meet with the president or a cabinet member: “Don’t be intimidated – they all put their pants on one leg at a time!” We are all human beings, with strengths, weaknesses, even peculiarities, who come from different backgrounds and bring different experiences to our work, but all trying to do their best in carrying out their offices. The Court is no different. I must say, nonetheless, that sitting on the Court is at one and the same time both exhilarating and challenging. One is conscious of sitting on the Mount Everest of international adjudication.

YOU HAVE ENJOYED A LONG AND DISTINGUISHED CAREER SO FAR. WHAT WOULD YOU LIKE TO ACHIEVE THAT YOU HAVE NOT YET ACCOMPLISHED?

More years of the same! Whether judging, arbitrating, lecturing, writing, speaking or mentoring young, smart and ambitious rising international lawyers, doing what I have done now for so many years continues to be the source of daily excitement. Whenever asked “You haven’t retired? You’re not thinking of retiring?” my response is simple: I will be retired by forces beyond my control.

Biographies:

Who's Who Legal UK Bar - Arbitration - Juniors

Charles N Brower has been a judge of the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal for 34 years, has served as judge ad hoc of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and currently serves also as judge ad hoc of the International Court of Justice. He is also a member of 20 Essex Street Chambers in London. He has served as acting legal adviser to the United States Department of State and as deputy special counsellor to the president of the United States. He was for many years a partner at White & Case LLP. He has specialised in international arbitration for 37 years and is a chartered arbitrator and fellow of the College of Commercial Arbitrators. In 2009 Judge Brower was awarded the American Society of International Law’s Manley O Hudson Medal for “pre-eminent scholarship and achievement in international law... without regard to nationality”. In 2010 he received the Stefan A Riesenfeld Award of the University of California Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) in recognition of “outstanding achievements and contributions in the field of international law”. In 2013 he received the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law’s Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the Pat Murphy Award of the Institute for Transnational Arbitration of the Center for American and International Law For Exceptional Civic Contributions and Extraordinary Professional Achievements in International Arbitration. In October 2014 he became the first inductee into the Legal Media Group Euromoney “Hall of Fame” for “significant contributions to commercial arbitration during his career”. In 2015 Judge Brower received Global Arbitration Review’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

WWL says: The “exceptional” Charles Brower boasts 35 years’ experience in the field of international arbitration, an area in which he is described by peers as “the godfather”.

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

Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Lawyers

Charles N Brower has been a judge of the Iran-United States Claims Tribunal for 33 years, has served as judge ad hoc of the Inter-American Court of Human Rights and currently serves as judge ad hoc of the International Court of Justice. He is also a member of 20 Essex Street Chambers in London. He has served as acting legal adviser to the United States Department of State and as deputy special counsellor to the president of the United States. He was for many years a partner at White & Case LLP. He has specialised in international arbitration for 35 years and is a chartered arbitrator and fellow of the College of Commercial Arbitrators. In 2009 Judge Brower was awarded the American Society of International Law’s Manley O Hudson Medal for “pre-eminent scholarship and achievement in international law... without regard to nationality”. In 2010 he received the Stefan A Riesenfeld Award of the University of California Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) in recognition of “outstanding achievements and contributions in the field of international law”. In 2013 he received the American Bar Association’s Section of International Law’s Lifetime Achievement Award, as well as the Pat Murphy Award of the Institute for Transnational Arbitration of the Center for American and International Law for “exceptional civic contributions and extraordinary professional achievements in international arbitration”. In October 2014 he became the first inductee into the Legal Media Group Euromoney “Hall of Fame” for “significant contributions to commercial arbitration during his career”. In 2015 Judge Brower received Global Arbitration Review’s Lifetime Achievement Award.

WWL says: Charles Brower is held in high esteem as “a founder and a leader in the development of investment arbitration”.

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

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