“In my experience with her as chair, she always has extremely well-managed arbitrations”
“Carita is a very experienced arbitrator”
“A top international player”
Carita is a Helsinki-based international arbitrator who began her practice in Paris in the early 1980s. Before starting her boutique in 2008, she spent 25 years at Roschier in corporate and dispute resolution work. She has been involved in more than 120 international arbitrations, mainly as arbitrator and chair including SCC, ICC, FAI, LCIA, JCAA, DIA, PCA, ICSID, UNCITRAL and NAFTA. She is the chair of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR since 2018.
Describe your career to date.
I commenced my legal practice as a young lawyer in Franco-American firms in Paris, exposing me to international arbitration in practice and to the ICC. Returning to my native Finland placed me in a more traditional big law firm environment for the bulk of career. The final stage is, not unexpectedly, an arbitrator boutique.
What do you enjoy most about working in arbitration?
Accommodating views and aligning different legitimate expectations and practices. Managing your own preconceived understandings and (hopefully) those of others. Finding a common tune among diverse legal understandings is, at best, challenging and rewarding arbitral diplomacy.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of having a global practice?
I do not perceive any disadvantages. I travel well and in the future travel necessities will certainly be tempered by an increase in remote encounters.
To what extent has covid-19 had an impact on commercial arbitration? Are parties willing to be flexible in procedure and approach to get it over the line?
I have had almost exclusively very constructive approaches to virtual hearings. There is a sense of common cause and “to make the best of it”.
What do clients look for in an effective arbitrator?
My understanding is that an effective arbitrator is forward-leaning, well prepared to manage front-loaded proceedings and ready to take somewhat unconventional approaches to procedure.
How effective are virtual hearings and arbitration proceedings compared to their in-person alternative? Do you see them becoming the ‘new normal’?
From an arbitrator perspective, I see very few disadvantages in virtual hearings. I find that body language can be read reasonably on the screen, the most frequently voiced drawback. I think counsel are more worried that they cannot make their case sufficiently well, especially in cross-examination. And yes, I think virtual/remote working will become the default position, obviously not to the exclusion of in-person meetings and hearings. In all events, there will in each instance be an active, considered choice of the best form for any interactive exchange.
What challenges did you face when setting up your own practice?
The big challenge was practical: attending to infrastructure matters that are handled tacitly in a big firm. Luckily, I had and have support staff emanating from “the big environment”.
What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?
Do not apologise constantly.