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Alexis Mourre

Alexis Mourre

Independent Arbitrator33-43 avenue du Président WilsonParisFrance75116

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Alexis Mourre has served as parties’ counsel, president of the tribunal, co-arbitrator, sole arbitrator and expert in more than 260 international arbitrations, both ad hoc and before most international arbitral institutions (ICC, ICSID, LCIA, ICDR, SIAC, SCC, DIAC, VIAC, etc). He established his own arbitration practice in May 2015, after having founded Castaldi Mourre & Partners in 1996, now a 35-lawyer firm specialising in arbitration and dispute resolution.

What do you enjoy most about practising in arbitration law?

The fact that parties with deeply diverging interests will all trust you to do justice. Differently to a judge, the arbitrator’s powers rest on the parties’ choice. Being selected as an arbitrator is an honour and a great responsibility. It is also a source of considerable pride and satisfaction.

What is the most challenging part of acting as an arbitrator?

There are many. An arbitrator needs to be on top of the case, to understand the issues, he or she needs to keep the balance between the parties equal and to conduct the proceedings fairly. An arbitrator needs to be authoritative and efficient in his or her case management. He or she also needs to be bold enough to make the right decisions without being intimidated. This being said, I would suggest that the greatest challenge faced by arbitrators is to keep an open mind to the parties’ arguments throughout and until the parties have fully presented their case. There is always the risk of forming a view on the case at a too early stage, which affects your ability to hear the parties and fully understand their arguments.

What is the most memorable arbitration case you have been a part of?

What immediately comes to my mind is a sports case. I was once selected to chair an interesting football dispute, where significant interests of a major international soccer team were at stake. Parties would normally select you for your experience in the field. Yet, in that particular case, among other more usual requirements, the parties asked that the president of the tribunal had no personal interest in football, and to not be a supporter of any team. A rather unusual requirement of absence of qualification!

You have recently been re-elected as president of the ICC. What would you still like to achieve in the role?

The Court has achieved a lot in my first term. Four new offices have been opened, two of which are case management offices (in São Paulo and Singapore) and two representation offices (in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi). The Rules have been revised, notably to introduce our already very successful expedited rules. Our practices have been modernised, with the introduction of measures aimed at increasing transparency, fostering efficiency and establishing the highest level of ethics. We have increased our global reach, in particular by creating the ICC Court Belt and Road Commission, as well as dedicated Court commissions for India and Africa. We have considerably improved the gender, generational and regional diversity in both the Court itself and our arbitrators’ appointments, and I am in this respect very proud that the new Court has equal participation of women and men. Yet, there is still much to do. We will have to further increase the quality of our case management services, in particular as to the awards’ scrutiny process. We will also aim at improving the responsiveness of our teams and to better adapt to the particular needs of our users in each case. The introduction of a new IT tool for the Court will allow us to increase the accessibility of data and interactivity of our services. And we will, of course, continue to improve the transparency as well as the cost and time-efficiency of ICC arbitrations.

How has the approach to case management in the arbitration field changed since you started your career?

There is surely much more attention given now than 25 or 30 years ago to matters of case management. I would say that practice has evolved along several lines.

First, there is an increasingly transnational approach to case management, and we see fewer arbitrators applying techniques drawn from their local judicial background. This evolution has been supported and encouraged via the work done by the IBA, as well as by ICCA and other international arbitration bodies. There is now a common playing field, and that is positive. From that perspective, I do not believe that initiatives such as the Prague Rules go in the right direction and will be successful.

Second, there is now general awareness of the importance of the initial case management conference and of early consultation with the parties on evidentiary matters.

Finally, as considerations of efficiency are becoming more meaningful, and as arbitrators are better prepared than in the past, tribunals show more readiness to address issues in stages when appropriate, including by bifurcating, discussing relevant matters in interim procedural conferences or entertaining motions for the early dismissal of manifestly unmeritorious claims or defences.

What impact has the push for time efficiency in arbitration cases had on the practice area?

Apart from what I previously mentioned concerning case management, there have been essentially two impacts. First, there is now more attention paid to the necessary availability of prospective arbitrators, and institutions (such as the ICC) require more transparency in this regard. Second, institutions exercise more control of the efficient conduct over the case. As a consequence, tribunals are required to deliberate as soon as possible, and institutions exercise control on the time needed to make the award after the last substantive step. The ICC has, for example, decided to set strict time limits for so doing, with fee reductions in case of an unjustified delay.

How do you think the arbitration market will evolve in the near future?

It will become an ever more diverse and competitive marketplace, with heightened ethical and efficiency standards. Conflict disclosure requirements will become stricter. As the arbitral community will expand and become more diverse, with an important generational change to come, the acceptance of transnational ethical rules for both counsel and arbitrators will become of primary importance. Finally, because of the need for more time and cost-efficiency, there will be a continuous evolution towards more proactive and robust case management practices.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Never think you can mislead your tribunal.

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Alexis Mourre is an independent arbitrator. He has been the president of the ICC International Court of Arbitration since 2015. Previous roles include vice president of the Court (2009–2015), vice president of the ICC Institute of World Business Law (2011–2015), co-chair of the IBA arbitration committee (2012–2013), LCIA Court member (2012–2015), and council member of the Milan International Chamber of Arbitration (2006–2014). Alexis has served in more than 260 international arbitrations, both ad hoc and before most international arbitral institutions.

WHAT DID YOU FIND MOST CHALLENGING ABOUT ENTERING ARBITRATION PRACTICE?

Looking back 25 years ago, when I decided to focus my career on arbitration, it was surely the transnational nature of our practice as well as the flexible nature of the proceedings. The need to adapt in each case to the specificities of the dispute and the expectations of parties from different cultural backgrounds appeared to me as an extraordinary challenge, but also a fantastic opportunity. My background at the time was court litigation, a practice where form often prevails on substance with a complex net of mandatory rules frequently sanctioned by nullity or inadmissibility, resulting in unnecessary complexity and added costs, to no benefit of fairness in the process or of the correctness of the decisions. Consider that, in countries such as France or Italy, a Code of Civil proceeding can span several thousand pages! Being able to frame in each given arbitration a procedure adapted to the specific needs and expectations of the parties seemed as an incredible progress to me.

HOW HAS THE ARBITRATION MARKET CHANGED SINCE YOU FIRST STARTED PRACTISING?

It is, of course, a much more diverse, open and competitive environment, with more arbitrators, more counsel and more institutions, but also a wider range of reliable arbitration seats around the globe. That is very good. There is also, in certain parts of the world, a resurgence of what I would call a certain form of arbitral nationalism, with governments trying to impose the use of their local arbitral institutions, which is not so good. We also are entering in a more uncertain environment, in which trust in arbitration is no longer a given. We see that in investor/state arbitration, but commercial arbitration is not insulated from a backlash, as some recent cases have shown. Finally, transparency is already changing the face of arbitration, both in investment and commercial arbitration.

WHY DID YOU ESTABLISH YOUR OWN ARBITRATION PRACTICE AFTER FOUNDING CASTALDI MOURRE & PARTNERS?

The need to avoid conflicts of interest as my practice focused mainly on arbitrator work.

WHAT ADVANTAGES DOES THE ICC OFFER OVER OTHER ARBITRATION INSTITUTIONS?

There are many. Its unique knowledge of the population of potential arbitrators in almost every jurisdiction in the world. Its truly global culture. The flexibility of its arbitration rules, accompanied by detailed guidance provided to the parties in its practice note. Its unique experience in administering large, complex, multiparty and multi-contracts cases. The availability of tools such as emergency arbitration and expedited rules. The measures recently taken to ensure the greatest efficiency of our arbitrations, such as the time limit for the submission of draft awards and the financial sanctions whenever there are unjustified delays. Its case management, ensuring at each stage that the arbitration is efficiently conducted, and the immediate availability of the secretariat in case of difficulties or questions. The innovative measures to increase the transparency of its procedures, such as the publication of reasons for the Court’s decisions and the publication of the composition of ICC tribunals. And of course, its unique service of scrutiny of awards, which is greatly appreciated by arbitrators and contributes to avoid errors and to increasing the quality of awards. Finally, I think that the ad valorem fees scale contributes to better costs predictability and control.

IN 2018 THE QUEEN MARY SURVEY FOUND THAT THE ICC WAS THE PREFERRED ARBITRATION INSTITUTION OF 77 PER CENT OF RESPONDENTS. HOW ARE YOU LOOKING TO SUSTAIN AND BUILD ON THIS SUCCESS?

By continuing to provide global excellence and to constantly innovate in order to improve the quality of our services. One very important driver of our actions is our constant exchange and dialogue with our users, allowing us to hear their concerns and constantly adapt our practices to the needs of the business community.

WHICH QUALITIES DOES THE ICC LOOK FOR WHEN APPOINTING ARBITRATORS?

The paramount duty of any arbitral institution is to select the best available arbitrator in each given case. We look at the parties’ requirements or preferences, if any have been expressed, as well, of course, at potential conflicts of interests, the nationality of the parties and the balance of the tribunal. The candidate’s qualifications in the sector of industry at stake and the applicable law are, of course, of great importance. We then look at the quality of the work performed by the candidate in other cases, as well as his or her availability, which needs to match that of the other arbitrators in the case. Gender and regional diversity are also very important considerations, to which great attention is given by the Court. Finally, the Court aims at promoting young practitioners whenever possible. The Court would always require that a candidate has sufficient experience when appointing a young practitioner as chairperson or sole arbitrator, but many of them tick that box easily and I am surprised of the quality of the work that they produce. This is a process to which we devote a lot of attention. In many instances, the Court is assisted in making the selection by proposals made by a neutral national committee of the ICC selected by the Court, and this greatly increases our outreach. We have also included in the last version of our practice note new provisions allowing the parties to consult and interact with the secretariat, directly or through a list procedure, in the appointment process.

YOU HAVE HAD A VERY DISTINGUISHED CAREER SO FAR. IS THERE ANYTHING ELSE YOU WOULD LIKE TO ACHIEVE?

I hope to have a lot more to achieve, both in my arbitrator career and as president of the Court.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO PRACTITIONERS WHO WANT TO FOUND THEIR OWN FIRM?

Go for it!

Global Leader

Arbitration 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Independent arbitrator and “dynamic president of the ICC court” Alexis Mourre is widely endorsed as “one of the leading arbitrators in the world” by peers, who describe him as “a key figure” in commercial and investor state arbitration. He is a distinguished practitioner with a wealth of experience as both arbitrator and counsel.

Biography

Alexis Mourre has served as parties’ counsel, president of the tribunal, co-arbitrator, sole arbitrator and expert in more than 260 international arbitrations, both ad hoc and before most international arbitral institutions (ICC, ICSID, LCIA, ICDR, SIAC, SCC, DIAC, VIAC, etc). He established his own arbitration practice in May 2015, after having founded Castaldi Mourre & Partners in 1996, now a 35-lawyer firm specialising in arbitration and dispute resolution.

He is the author of numerous books and publications in the field of international business law, private international law and arbitration law. He is founder and former editor in chief of Les Cahiers de l’Arbitrage – The Paris Journal of International Arbitration, a leading French publication in the field of Arbitration.

Since 1 July 2015, Alexis Mourre has been the president of the ICC International Court of Arbitration and was vice president of the Court from 2009 to 2015. He was vice president of the ICC Institute of World Business Law from 2011 to 2015. Former roles include co-chair of the IBA Arbitration Committee (2012-2013), LCIA Court member (2012-2015) and council member of the Milan International Chamber of Arbitration (2006-2014). He is a member of a large number of scientific and professional institutions dedicated to Arbitration and Private International Law. He is the founder and former president of Paris Arbitration.

He is fluent in French, English, Italian and Spanish, and has a working knowledge of Portuguese.

National Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended
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