Bernard Hanotiau is a member of the Brussels and Paris Bars. He is also professor emeritus of international law from the University of Louvain. Since 1978, he has been involved in hundreds of arbitration cases as party-appointed arbitrator, chairman, sole arbitrator, counsel and expert in all parts of the world, according to the rules of most arbitral institutions and the UNCITRAL Rules. In March 2011, Mr Hanotiau received the GAR Arbitrator of the Year award. In April 2016, he also received the WWL Lawyer of the Year: Arbitration award.
Is there a difference between your preparation as an arbitrator/chairman and your preparation as counsel?
Arbitrator and counsel have in common that they must have a deep knowledge of the case when they come to the hearing, but they approach the case from a different perspective. Counsel’s objective is to win the case. To this end, they have to develop a strategy; make sure that their witnesses and experts are well prepared; and anticipate all possible questions that can be raised by the adversary and the tribunal. The tribunal’s duty is to render a just decision on the basis of the memorials and evidence submitted by the parties. Their task is to read and understand the whole record and determine what areas need to be clarified or further investigated at the hearing. Therefore, they both prepare the case under a different angle.
In what ways has your role as vice president of DIAC and member of the Court of SIAC enhanced your arbitration practice?
Being a member of an institutional board or court gives you a better idea of the issues with which these institutions are confronted, and a better feeling for the regional differences and cultural sensitivities in terms of arbitration practice. You also see the other side. It is a very rewarding experience.
What are your thoughts on diversity within the arbitration practice and why is it important?
For decades, the arbitration practice has been dominated by Western white males. Following various initiatives like the Pledge, the arbitration world has realised that this had to change. And they have changed and continue changing. There is more diversity among arbitrators in terms of gender and geographical origin. But one must realise that what the parties are looking for in the first place when they have to appoint an arbitrator, is an individual who has the required experience and expertise, whatever his or her gender or origin.
How do you see your practice developing over the next five years?
I do not anticipate any major change in my practice. There are more and more international arbitrations, whether commercial or investment. I will continue to act as arbitrator in major disputes under the rules of various institutions. I only anticipate a greater diversity of seats or venues. Arbitration has truly become a worldwide phenomenon. Thirty years ago, it was mainly limited to Europe. Nowadays, arbitration is practised in nearly every country of the world.
How do you anticipate international arbitration will change in the next five years?
Year after year, arbitration is becoming more and more complex in terms of procedure and I do not anticipate that it will fundamentally change in the future. One thing is sure: the development of technology will have a more and more profound impact on our practice.
You have published extensively on international arbitration and contractual matters. What are the opportunities and challenges of publishing so extensively?
Having started my career as an academic, I have always found it natural to publish on challenging issues in international arbitration. I also find great pleasure in publishing. And I think that by publishing extensively on multi-contract multiparty arbitrations, I have greatly contributed to the understanding and knowledge of this topic.
What has been the most rewarding part of practising in such an international discipline?
International arbitration is comparative law in action. You have the opportunity to decide disputes of paramount importance involving fascinating issues of fact and law, each case is different, you meet fascinating personalities, you learn about various industries and technologies. It also gives you the opportunity to discover the world and its multiple legal cultures.
What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own boutique arbitration law firm?
I would say first: do it. And in the second place: do it with somebody else, with another experienced arbitrator. Being two gives a stronger message to the outside world and generates more dynamism in the new venture. Our firm will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year. It has been, and remains, a fascinating experience. I would definitely do it again.
Bernard Hanotiau is a member of the Brussels and Paris Bars. Since 1978, he has been actively involved in more than 500 international arbitration cases in all parts of the world. Mr Hanotiau is professor emeritus of the law school of Louvain University (Belgium). He is an advisory member of the ICCA governing board and the council of the ICC Institute. He is a member of the Court of Arbitration of SIAC and of the governing board of DIAC (Dubai). He is the author of Complex Arbitrations: Multiparty, Multicontract, Multi-issue and Class Actions (Kluwer, 2006). In March 2011, Mr Hanotiau received the GAR Award for Arbitrator of the Year. In April 2016, he also received the Who’s Who Legal Award for Lawyer of the Year: Arbitration.
DESCRIBE YOUR CAREER TO DATE.
Since the age of 30, I have devoted my entire professional career to international arbitration, not only as an arbitrator but also as a professor, counsel, expert, author and panellist.
WHAT DO YOU CONSIDER TO BE YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?
I am proud to have been able to contribute, by my various activities, to the development of international arbitration and also to have had the opportunity to decide disputes of paramount importance involving fascinating issues of fact and law.
WHAT QUALITIES MAKE FOR A SUCCESSFUL ARBITRATOR?
These qualities are the same for all professions: rigour, creativity, a good legal mind and good common sense, experience and day-to-day involvement.
WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO ESTABLISH YOUR OWN BOUTIQUE LAW FIRM? WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO OTHER PRACTITIONERS LOOKING TO THE SAME?
I wanted to set up a boutique firm totally devoted to international arbitration, and with a limited number of lawyers in order to avoid conflicts. It has been a wonderful experience that I recommend to everybody.
IN YOUR OPINION, WHAT ARE THE MOST SIGNIFICANT CHALLENGES ASSOCIATED WITH RULES FOR DISCLOSURE AT VARIOUS ARBITRAL INSTITUTIONS?
The rules of the game should be clear but it is not always the case. In my opinion, the
IBA Guidelines on Conflicts should remain the first reference. For transparency and due process reasons, and to have a clear view of each institution’s jurisprudence, all decisions on challenges should be put in writing and communicated to all concerned.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT WORKING IN THE FIELD OF INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION?
Each case is different, involves different industries and facts, and raises new intellectual challenges.
WHAT STEPS DOES THE ARBITRATION COMMUNITY NEED TO TAKE TO IMPROVE THE EFFICIENCY OF INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION PROCEEDINGS?
It is impossible to answer this question in a few words. Efforts should be made by all participants. Too much time is spent at every step of the procedure, from the constitution of the arbitral tribunal to the issuance of the award. It is a shared responsibility.
HOW DO YOU EXPECT THE FIELD OF INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION TO DEVELOP OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?
Notwithstanding the criticisms, arbitration will continue to grow in all parts of the world but its practice will be more complex and challenging than in the past.
Bernard Hanotiau is “a top Belgian arbitrator” who is “extremely experienced and has a no-nonsense approach”. He has spent over 40 years acting as arbitrator, chairman and counsel in commercial disputes.
Bernard Hanotiau is a member of the Brussels and Paris Bars. In 2001, he established a boutique law firm in Brussels concentrating on international arbitration and litigation. The firm has offices in Brussels and Singapore.
Since 1978, Bernard Hanotiau has been actively involved in international commercial arbitration as party-appointed arbitrator, chairman, sole arbitrator, counsel and expert in various parts of the world. Among the parties engaged in these arbitrations have been states (including on the basis of bilateral investment treaties) and state entities; high-tech and telecommunications corporations; construction and real estate companies; airport designers and developers; owners and lessees of shopping centres, retail parks, department stores and hypermarkets; oil, gas and mining companies; pipeline manufacturers (and related industries); dredging companies; water and electricity suppliers; pharmaceutical and chemical companies; providers of medical services; automobile manufacturers and manufacturers of parts for the automobile industry; distributors and manufacturers of various kinds of goods and equipments; fashion merchants and retailers; owners and retailers of luxury brands; food suppliers; breweries; manufacturers of military supplies and satellites; airlines and railways; GDS operators; banks and investment companies; hotel management corporations and casinos; and insurance and reinsurance companies.
Mr Hanotiau is a member of the panel of arbitrators of, or receives appointments as arbitrator by, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC, Paris), the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), ICSID, the American Arbitration Association (AAA), the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, the Russian Arbitration Association, SIAC (Singapore), TRAC (Teheran), HKIAC (Hong Kong), DIAC (Dubai), CIETAC (Beijing), BAC (Beijing), the Japan Commercial Arbitration Association, KLRCA (Kuala Lumpur), KCAB (Seoul), the BVI International Arbitration Center, the Permanent Court of International Arbitration (PCA, The Hague; also on the PCA-specialised panel of arbitrators for disputes relating to outer space activities), WIPO (Geneva), CEPANI (Belgium), the Netherlands Arbitration Institution (NAI), the Swiss Chambers of Commerce, the Pacific International Arbitration Centre (PIAC), VCCA (Vilnius), the Lima Centro de Arbitraje, the Danish Institute of Arbitration, the Cairo Center of Arbitration, the French Arbitration Association and the French-German Chamber of Commerce (Paris), IATA (Geneva) and the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS, Lausanne).
Mr Hanotiau has a PhD from Louvain University and an LLM from Columbia University (1973). He is a member of the ICCA advisory board, the council of the ICC Institute, the ICC International Arbitration Commission, the SIAC Court of Arbitration, the international advisory board of the Seoul IDRC, the International Court of Arbitration of the Istanbul Arbitration Center and the Hong Kong International Arbitration Centre international advisory board.
Mr Hanotiau is the author of Complex Arbitrations: Multiparty, Multicontract, Multi-issue and Class Actions (Kluwer, 2006) and of more than 120 articles, most of them relating to international commercial law and arbitration.
In March 2011, Mr Hanotiau received the GAR Arbitrator of the Year award. In April 2016, he also received the Who’s Who Legal Lawyer of the Year: Arbitration award.