Cecilia Carrara is "a practitioner to admire" and "a great lawyer", according to respondents who say she is "very diligent in arbitration proceedings, with deep experience in post-M&A disputes".
Cecilia Carrara has significant experience in the field of national and international commercial and investment arbitration proceedings, both institutional and ad hoc, acting as counsel and arbitrator. She further represents international and Italian companies in arbitration-related proceedings, such as recognition and enforcement proceedings, before national courts. Cecilia also focuses on mergers and acquisitions; extraordinary corporate transactions; and commercial contracts, mainly representing foreign clients investing in Italy.
What inspired you to specialise in international arbitration?
Since university, I have been passionate about international private law and comparative law, and the concepts of merchant law and party autonomy. International arbitration represented a natural aspiration for me, as it combines commercial law and an international dimension, without the formalities and domestic boundaries of court litigation. I started by practising in the corporate and M&A areas, focusing on international arbitration matters – mostly for research and academic purposes, but I gradually succeeded in making my own way in the field of international arbitration in practice as well.
What do you enjoy most about your role as a pro bono partner at the firm?
It gives me the opportunity to carry out a socially important function, beyond being a professional in my area of specialisation. The possibility of working for social purposes – for the benefit of other firm members as well as third parties – is a very powerful motivation that adds value to the everyday work. Many of us share the need to engage in altruistic purposes, and the opportunity to do so as a team is very precious. Being pro bono partner also means having a proactive function, together with the management of the firm, to promote and execute the firm’s social responsibility initiatives, as well as being at the forefront of the analysis of new legal discussions in line with social developments (eg, corporate social responsibility, sustainability, climate change, diversity, etc).
What role do you see third-party funding playing in arbitration moving forward?
Third-party funding may play a significant role in broadening access to arbitration among different categories of parties who may otherwise not have the financial resources to commence arbitration proceedings. Funders may also positively contribute to increased awareness in the market of the advantages and opportunities offered by international arbitration. However, it is crucial that third-party funders operate in an ethically sound context, ensuring transparency and full compliance with all applicable regulations, to preserve high standards of conduct in the international arbitration field.
If you could implement one reform in international arbitration, what would it be?
A revision of the New York Convention of 1958 on the Recognition and Enforcement of International Arbitration Awards, because it has been one of the most important international instruments for the development of international arbitration. It is unlikely to happen in a period of growing nationalisms, but if I had a magic wand I would like to see it amended to align the original text with the more recent developments in international arbitration – in particular as concerns formal requirements, the notion of public order, enforcement shopping and procedural abuses.
Should more be done to improve the transparency of arbitration proceedings?
Yes, I think that more transparency is important to ensure a high level of trust by broader communities at large in international arbitration. I think that the parties, in purely commercial cases, should remain free to preserve the confidential nature of arbitration proceedings; but in cases involving public entities or public interests more generally, a higher level of transparency is required. The publication, in redacted form, of arbitral awards, especially in these cases, should also be encouraged to promote the evolution of the law and provide more legal certainty to the users.
What steps can younger arbitration practitioners take to improve their chances of getting appointments? Is there an important role to play here for experienced lawyers?
I believe that a good way for younger arbitration practitioners to improve their chances of getting appointments is through the creation of good ties with arbitral institutions – which are more likely to be the sources of the “first appointments” – by proving the quality of their work in cases they are involved in with different functions, through working experiences with the institutions themselves and/or through publications and research projects.
I think that more experienced lawyers can and should play a very important role in promoting younger generations. For example, established arbitrators may support younger talented colleagues by appointing them as secretaries or even as chairs in a balanced arbitral tribunal, or by co-authoring research projects and publications or proposing them as speakers/contributors in joint academic/networking occasions.
In what ways has the nature of arbitration proceedings evolved since you first began practising?
My impression is that procedural issues have become relatively more important than the substance and that the level of litigiousness has increased. On the other hand the community has become broader and more diverse.
What is the best piece of career advice you have received?
Being based in Italy, in a relatively small legal market, the best advice I’ve received is not to give up corporate and M&A work, which I combine with my arbitration practice.
"Cecilia is very proactive and is able to provide sophisticated advice at short notice"
"An extremely able lawyer and arbitrator"
"She's highly intelligent and good to work with, with a broad legal knowledge"
Cecilia Carrara is a partner at Legance and has a significant experience in the field of national and international, commercial and investment arbitration proceedings, both institutional and ad hoc, acting as counsel and arbitrator. She further represents international and Italian companies in arbitration- related proceedings in front of the national courts, such as recognition and enforcement proceedings of arbitral awards. Cecilia has been admitted to practise before the Italian Supreme Court.
Cecilia also focuses on mergers and acquisitions, extraordinary corporate transactions and commercial contracts. She is responsible for the Legance German desk, with a specific focus on German-speaking countries and Eastern Europe.
She coordinates the corporate social activities of the firm.
Cecilia is a member of the Steering Committee of the Pledge and of the IBA Task Force in charge of reviewing the 2010 IBA Rules on the Taking of Evidence in International Arbitration.
She is co-founder of ArbIt (the Italian Forum for Arbitration and ADR) and member of its Advisory Board. Cecilia is also member of the board of directors of AIA (Associazione Italiana per l’Arbitrato).
She has been a member of the ICC International Court of Arbitration from July 2015 until January 2020 and of the Board Council of ICC Italy from January 2018 until May 2019.
She has also been a member of the ICC Task Force on Emergency Arbitrator Proceedings and of the ICC Task Force on Arbitration of Climate Change Related Disputes.
Cecilia Carrara is recommended in several international publications. "She is excellent", says Chambers and Partners (2019). She was identified by Global Arbitration Review and WWL 2018 as one of the world's leading commercial arbitration experts.
She has been listed in the 2017 edition of WWL: Arbitration as one of the world's leading arbitration specialists; and in the 2015 and 2016 editions as one of the world's leading commercial arbitration experts.
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