Strategic Research Sponsor of the American Bar Association's Section of International LawThe Queen's Award for Enterpise 2012

Cavinder Bull SC
Office:
10 Collyer Quay
10-01 Ocean Financial Centre
049315
City:
Singapore
Country:
Singapore
Tel:
+65 6531 2416
Fax:
+65 6533 3591

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Arbitration

Building on nearly 25 years of dispute resolution experience, Cavinder acts as counsel and arbitrator in complex international arbitrations.

He represents governments, multinational corporations and some of the biggest names in business and finance. He has been appointed arbitrator in ICSID, ICC, SIAC, LCIA, UNCITRAL and ad hoc arbitrations. He is deputy chairman of the Singapore International Arbitration Centre, vice president of the SIAC Court of Arbitration and vice president of the Asia Pacific Regional Arbitration Group.

Describe your career to date.

My career so far has been characterised by diversity. I have acted as counsel in investor-state as well as commercial arbitration cases. I have had hearings in Milan, Singapore, Tokyo, London, Paris and New York; and have argued against advocates from London, Australia, Singapore, the US and Italy. Often, these hearings have been before the very best arbitrators in the world.

What is the most interesting case you have worked on?

There have been many interesting cases but the code of the arbitration practitioner is to keep our cases confidential. What I can say, though, is that I often think that nothing will surprise me again after how a particular case unfolded but then something totally amazing happens in the next case. Life as an arbitration practitioner is nothing if not exciting.

You are regarded as a particularly strong advocate and regularly appear as counsel in international arbitral proceedings worldwide. Are you looking to make the transition to sitting as an arbitrator in the future?

For better or worse, that is already happening in my career. I still spend the vast majority of my time as counsel but I have sat in ICSID, LCIA, SIAC, ICC and ad hoc arbitrations. I enjoy it, though I have to confess I enjoy the cut and thrust of counsel work just that little bit more. I’m told by those older and wiser than me that I will grow out of this preference.

How has SIAC’s development into a major regional centre of international arbitration affected you?

It has been a huge blessing. It has brought interesting work to Singapore and it has also made clients look to Singapore for arbitration talent even for cases seated elsewhere. Being involved in SIAC as an officer holder has also allowed me to actively participate in the ongoing development of the international arbitration community more generally. It has given me a unique vantage point in the effort to stay on the cutting edge of arbitration practice.

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

Yes, it is, and such competition and diversity is good. It makes us all better at what we do.

Given the increasing number of younger lawyers trying to break into arbitration, what can practitioners do to stand out?

There is nothing more compelling than an advocate who is well prepared and clear in his or her presentation. It is very traditional, almost boring, advice but the truth is that when an advocate is well prepared and then presents the case with no embellishment or drama, seeking just pure clarity, it leaves its mark with the tribunal. 

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