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Albert Jan van den Berg
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Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Arbitration

Professor Albert Jan van den Berg (Netherlands) is the immediate past president of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA; 2014–2016) and a partner of Hanotiau & van den Berg (Brussels, Belgium). He is a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center, Washington DC; and Tsinghua University, Beijing. He is also emeritus professor at Erasmus University, Rotterdam. Professor van den Berg is presiding and party-appointed arbitrator in numerous international commercial and investment arbitrations. He also acts as counsel in international commercial arbitrations. He is a former president of the Netherlands Arbitration Institute and vice-president of the London Court of International Arbitration.

What inspired you to focus your practice on international arbitration?

My mentor, the late Professor Pieter Sanders.

What skills make a successful arbitrator?

I believe that a successful arbitrator requires a mix of different skills. Among the most important ones are: (a) awareness that 80 per cent is facts and 20 per cent is law in most cases; (b) awareness that you are in a service industry where you have to resolve a dispute between parties before you; (c) knowledge of several languages (in particular English, French and Spanish); (d) not to be afraid of numbers; (e) knowledge of and respect for different cultures; (f) management, diplomacy, patience and endurance; and (g) permanent curiosity with respect to human, social, historical, political and technical matters.

How can practitioners who desire to sit as arbitrators take steps to mitigate conflicts that may bar their appointment?

As a general matter, I recommend founding or joining a boutique law firm. In case of investment arbitration: do not act as counsel so as to avoid “double hatting”.

What advice would you give to young lawyers looking to sit as arbitrators in the future?

Select carefully your role models.

What has been your proudest moment in practice?

When the Dutch court set aside the US$50 billion awards in Yukos on 20 April 2016.

International investment arbitration is now, more than ever, playing an important role in ongoing international treaty negotiations such as the CETA and TPP. What effects do you think that this is having on the practice?

I think there is a strong future for international investment arbitration because it is an effective dispute settlement mechanism that addresses concrete problems that otherwise might not be remedied.

The legitimacy of investor-state arbitration is being heavily scrutinised. How has this scrutiny affected the field and what can be done to offset these criticisms?

There appears to be much misunderstanding about investor-state dispute settlement. One of the obvious measures is more transparency.

Several firms have taken steps to strengthen their capabilities in international arbitration. Is this having any impact on the field?

I consider this a welcome development. It contributes to more diversity in international arbitration.


Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Lawyers

Albert Jan van den Berg (1949, Amsterdam, the Netherlands) is a founding partner in Hanotiau & van den Berg (Brussels, Belgium) and is the immediate past president of the International Council for Commercial Arbitration (ICCA). He is and has been sole, presiding and party-appointed arbitrator in numerous international arbitrations (ad hoc, AAA/ICDR, DRCAFTA, CRCICA, DIAC, ECT, ICC, ICSID, LCIA, NAFTA, NAI, OHADA, PCA, SCC, SIAC, and UNCITRAL), relating to, inter alia, airports, banking, broadcasting, construction, defence projects, distributorship, electricity and gas supply, fashion, futures and options, gambling, information technology, insurance and reinsurance, investments, joint ventures, licensing, media, mining, nuclear power, oil and gas, pharmaceuticals, post-M&A, post-privatisation, professional associations, real estate, sales, satellites, shale gas, solar energy, sports, tax, telecom and turnkey projects. He frequently acts as counsel in international commercial arbitration.

Professor van den Berg is on many panels of arbitrators, including: American Arbitration Association (AAA), New York; Arbitral Centre of the Federal Economic Chamber, Vienna; Arbitral Tribunal for Football, World Cup Division for the 2002 FIFA World Cup, Geneva; China International Economic and Trade Arbitration Commission (CIETAC), Beijing; Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre (HKIAC); Hungarian Chamber of Commerce and Industry; Indonesia National Board of Arbitration (BANI), Jakarta; International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID), Washington; Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration (KLRCA); Netherlands Arbitration Institute (NAI); PRIME Finance; Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC). He is an arbitrator on the Arbitral Tribunal concerning the Bank for International Settlements (Hague Treaty of 20 January 1930).

Professor Van den Berg is honorary president of ICCA. He is a member of the commission on international arbitration and ADR of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), Paris; the LCIA Company; the international advisory board of the HKIAC; the supervisory board of the NAI; the Council of the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration; the advisory board of the University of Geneva’s Master of Laws in International Dispute Settlement (MIDS); the board of trustees of the Foundation for International Arbitration Advocacy (FIAA); and the board of trustees of the Institute of International Commercial Law of Pace University School of Law. He is former president of the NAI and former vice-president of the LCIA. He is professor emeritus of law (arbitration chair) at Erasmus University, Rotterdam; a visiting professor at Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, DC, and Tsinghua University Law School, Beijing; and member of the Faculty of the MIDS, Geneva. He is acting general editor of the Yearbook: Commercial Arbitration. He has also extensively published and lectured on international arbitration (see list posted on He maintains the website His legal education includes law degrees from the University of Amsterdam (1973), University of Aix-en-Provence (1974) and New York University (1975), as well as PhD degrees from the University of Aix-en-Provence (1977) and Erasmus University (1981).

Professor van den Berg was named Arbitration Lawyer of the Year by Who's Who Legal in 2006 and 2011, and the Best Prepared and Most Responsive Arbitrator by Global Arbitration Review in 2013.

WWL says: Albert Jan van den Berg is "simply the best arbitrator in the world; focused, sharp, with a sound analysis of both facts and law".


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

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