Strategic Research Sponsor of the American Bar Association's Section of International LawThe Queen's Award for Enterpise 2012
Audley Sheppard QC
Office:
10 Upper Bank Street
E14 5JJ
City:
London
Country:
England
Tel:
+44 20 7006 8723
Fax:
+44 20 7006 5555

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Arbitration

Audley Sheppard is co-head of the international arbitration group at Clifford Chance LLP, based in London. He primarily acts as counsel. He also sits as an arbitrator. He is chairman of the LCIA Board. He formerly served on the LCIA Court (vice president) and ICC Court, and the IBA (co-chair) and ILA (rapporteur) arbitration committees. He attended university in New Zealand and Cambridge, England. He is a visiting professor at Queen Mary, London. He was appointed Queen’s Counsel in 2015.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO THE FIELD OF INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION?

I was attracted to the combination of contract, tort, public international and comparative law that arises in many international arbitrations. I also like the procedural flexibility compared with court. Very importantly, it allows me to be an advocate. In addition, it provides opportunities to write and teach, and to meet and engage with many interesting people from around the world.

HOW HAS YOUR PRACTICE EVOLVED OVER THE YEARS?

My practice has remained fairly consistent, involving infrastructure and energy projects, and international trade and investment. Of course, I have progressed from the most junior bag carrier to lead counsel! I am also increasingly asked to be an arbitrator.

WORK IN RELATION TO NIGERIA PLAYS A KEY ROLE IN YOUR PRACTICE. HAS THIS BEEN A CONSCIOUS FOCUS OR A NATURAL EVOLUTION OF YOUR PRACTICE?

I first visited Nigeria to meet with an international oil company client which had a multibillion-dollar dispute and I have been back about a dozen times. It has a dynamic but challenging economy and is likely to keep transactional and disputes lawyers busy for the foreseeable future. The people I have met there have been extremely hospitable.

ARE THERE ANY PARTICULAR AREAS OF ACADEMIC INTEREST AT PRESENT?

I have written on a wide range of arbitration topics, most recently on evidentiary privileges in ICSID arbitration, and the psychology of dissents. I am presently revisiting the topic of mandatory laws and public policy.

THIS YEAR YOU HAVE TAKEN OVER AS CHAIRMAN OF THE LCIA FROM J WILLIAM ROWLEY QC. HOW ARE YOU HOPING TO SHAPE THE FUTURE OF THE LCIA ON A GLOBAL SCALE?

The LCIA is the most professional and time – and cost –  efficient arbitral institution in the world. At a time of significant global uncertainty, English arbitration generally and the LCIA specifically are the most suitable means of resolving complex international disputes. I intend for the LCIA to become better known through the Americas and Africa, in addition to Europe.

WHAT ARE THE GREATEST CHALLENGES CURRENTLY FACING ARBITRATORS AT THE MOMENT?

The greatest challenge is to ensure that users have confidence in the system: that decisions are made by knowledgeable and interested arbitrators, fairly and efficiently. Criticism of investor-state arbitration should not be allowed to taint commercial arbitration. The whole arbitral community, including arbitrators, must address issues such as the lack of diversity, guerrilla tactics and prolixity of counsel.  

HOW DO YOU SEE THE REGULATION OF THIRD-PARTY FUNDING IN INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION DEVELOPING OVER THE NEXT YEAR?

I expect to see soft law guidelines and some national laws requiring third-party funding of a party to be disclosed to the tribunal and the other side, but nothing beyond that. Some third-party funders may publish their own code of best practice.

WHAT SKILLS ARE NEEDED TO BE A SUCCESSFUL ARBITRATOR?

A good arbitrator needs to be curious, conscientious, collegiate and capable, with a good understanding of the law and the “real world”. Cultural and personal empathy helps. Having the time to study the documents and write the award is essential. 

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