Strategic Research Sponsor of the American Bar Association's Section of International LawThe Queen's Award for Enterpise 2012
Stephen Jagusch QC
Office:
90 High Holborn
WC1V 6LJ
City:
London
Country:
England
Tel:
+44 20 7653 2000

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders: Arbitration

Global chair of international arbitration at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Stephen specialises in commercial and investment treaty arbitration. He has been counsel in more than 200 arbitrations and sat as arbitrator in more than 50 cases of all types, commercial and investor-state.  A great many of Stephen’s cases have been for or against sovereign states or substantial multinational organisations, and he has been lead counsel in many of the world’s leading investment treaty cases. Stephen is recognised as a leader in his field and has recently been described as “one of the most impressive advocates around”, “a masterful cross-examiner”, a “tenacious fighter”, the “maestro of strategy”, “one of the gurus in the field” and “one of the pre-eminent ICSID arbitration experts in the world”. Colleagues and clients praise Stephen’s “finely honed instincts for strategy in advocacy”. Stephen has earned numerous client and peer-review awards in recognition of his handling of highly complex and high value cross-border disputes. Stephen routinely speaks at leading conferences and seminars and is widely published on the subject of international arbitration. Stephen was awarded Queen’s Counsel in 2016.

WHAT INSPIRED YOU TO PURSUE A CAREER IN ARBITRATION?

Nothing in the disputes sector compares to international arbitration. Each case presents a unique mix of clients, opponents, counsel, witnesses and arbitrators. Most involve several jurisdictions. So it is hard to imagine a more stimulating career in the law. 

HOW HAS THE ROLE OF ARBITRATOR EVOLVED SINCE YOU BEGAN YOUR PRACTICE?

Significantly. Contemporary arbitrators must be more careful than ever with disclosure, personal and professional conflicts and even to avoid the remotest appearance of prejudgment or bias. Arbitration is no longer a gentlemanly pursuit in which its actors are presumed to be honest and honourable. Tactical challenges to arbitrators and awards are now commonplace. Moreover, today’s arbitrators must navigate their way through numerous new sources of soft law, amidst an ever-growing library of published awards and scholarly writings.

WHICH DO YOU PREFER: SITTING AS SOLE ARBITRATOR OR AS PART OF A PANEL AND WHY?

I enjoy both, but I prefer sitting with others. Deliberating with experienced and engaged arbitrators is far more satisfying than going solo.

MANY SOURCES HAVE NOTED A PARTICULAR INCREASE IN THE USE OF ARBITRATION IN THE CONSTRUCTION INDUSTRY. WHY DO YOU THINK ARBITRATION HAS BECOME SUCH A POPULAR FORM OF DISPUTE RESOLUTION IN THIS SECTOR?

Globalisation pushes contractors  into new markets abroad and hence into arbitration. Also, lenders are increasingly taking project contracts as security and hence insist on arbitration. And parties can choose construction dispute specialists to decide their disputes, which cannot be guaranteed in the courts.

JURISDICTIONS ACROSS THE MIDDLE EAST AND ASIA ARE INCREASINGLY CITED AS POPULAR ARBITRAL SEATS. TO WHAT EXTENT ARE THEY CHALLENGING THE SUPREMACY OF MORE TRADITIONAL VENUES?

Asia, especially Hong Kong and Singapore, has a proven offering which is routinely reviewed and enhanced to meet user demand. Asian, Australasian and Pacific Rim parties are increasingly choosing more local venues. And rightly so.

YOU HAVE PREVIOUSLY DRAWN ATTENTION TO THE CHALLENGE CORRUPTION POSES TO ARBITRATION; IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT IS THE SCALE OF THE PROBLEM AND WHAT CAN BE DONE TO ENSURE THE INTEGRITY OF THE ARBITRAL PROCESS?

My main concern here is corruption of the arbitration process as opposed to the more familiar subject of corruption as a substantive issue. Corruption of the process is more prevalent than many are prepared to admit. It is too easy for parties to mislead, cheat, bribe or simply refuse to respect the rules of the game. 

Parties and their counsel are becoming increasingly sophisticated, often with the assistance of specialist third parties, in detecting and proving corruption of the process. I do not enjoy thinking about how much corruption is taking place in international arbitration across the globe, which goes undetected because the parties lack the skills and resources to detect it. Or, worse, because they don’t even look for it in the first place. 

The absence of consistent ethical standards and tools sufficient to investigate or police the behaviour of the protagonists, including the decision makers, combines to create a dangerous cocktail. Greater vigilance is required.

WHAT IS THE MOST MEMORABLE MATTER THAT YOU HAVE WORKED ON?

Cases are memorable for good and bad reasons, perhaps a moment in one’s career, or the effort and sacrifice they consume. For me, they include my persuading an ICSID tribunal to reject US$2 billion in claims because the investor did not possess the nationality he had enjoyed for most of his life. In another case my cross-examination led to the defeat of two high-value claims. In a recent case I discovered that a chairman of two of my tribunals had been compromised.

AS ONE OF THE WORLD’S MOST DISTINGUISHED ARBITRATORS, WHERE DO YOU GO FROM HERE? WHAT ARE NOW YOUR MAIN PRIORITIES REGARDING YOUR CAREER?

I cannot imagine giving up either counsel or arbitrator work. I enjoy too much the challenges of leading teams of intelligent lawyers into the battlefield for the world’s biggest and most complex disputes. So I expect to continue both my counsel and arbitrator work (for as long as I am in demand!).

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Lawyers

The global chair of international arbitration at Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan, Stephen specialises in commercial and investment treaty arbitration. He has been counsel in more than 200 arbitrations and has sat as arbitrator in more than 50 cases of all types, commercial and investor-state.

A great many of Stephen's cases have been for or against sovereign states or substantial multinational organisations, and he has been lead counsel in many of the world's leading commercial and investment treaty cases.

Stephen is recognised as a leader in his field and has recently been described as “one of the most impressive advocates around”, “a masterful cross-examiner”, a “tenacious fighter”, the “maestro of strategy”, “one of the gurus in the field” and “one of the pre-eminent ICSID arbitration experts in the world”. Colleagues and clients praise Stephen’s “finely honed instincts for strategy in advocacy”. Stephen has earned numerous client and peer-review awards in recognition of his handling of highly complex and high-value cross-border disputes.

Although a recognised expert in all types of arbitration, Stephen’s emphasis has been on disputes in energy, mining and natural resources, telecoms, converging technologies, mergers and acquisitions and construction projects.

Stephen routinely speaks at leading conferences and seminars, and is widely published on the subject of international arbitration.

Stephen was awarded Queen’s Counsel in 2016.

WWL says: Stephen Jagusch QC is a senior figure in the market and is “one of the leading practitioners currently doing this work”, according to sources.

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

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