Crenguta Leaua is acclaimed by respondents for being "such a force in Romania, and a great practitioner". Peers are "very impressed by her accomplishments as counsel and arbitrator".
An arbitrator in over 120 cases, Crenguta Leaua is listed at WIPO and in the USA, Austria, Bulgaria, China, Malaysia, Moldova, Poland, Romania and Slovenia. She is a former vice president of the ICC Court (2015–2018), and a managing partner of Leaua Damcali Deaconu Paunescu – LDDP (a GAR 100-listed firm). She acts as counsel in both investment and commercial arbitration. She is an associate professor at two Bucharest universities, teaching comparative international arbitration, construction arbitration and business law.
What did you find most challenging about entering the field of international arbitration?
In spite of the existing biases of those days – I was a young woman from Eastern Europe, not part of an international firm – in fact, for me, the biggest challenge was to get access to information: reviews, books, updates on recent developments. I remember chasing the information about publications on arbitration everywhere I could, visiting libraries instead of museums in every country I went, asking around about recommendations about books on a specific topic, and so on.
Nowadays the online access to resources makes the life of young practitioners much easier. I don’t know if they realise the immense freedom of professional development they enjoy, together with this access.
Since you began your career, what has been the biggest change you have seen in relation to the way that arbitration proceedings are conducted?
At the level of principles, the most significant change I have noted over the past few decades is the shift from confidentiality as a core principle of arbitration and one of its main advantages over the court proceedings, to transparency. This was an influence that investment arbitration had on commercial arbitration. Indeed, some elements of the arbitral proceedings remain confidential, but the degree of transparency of the arbitral institutions has increased to a level that was inconceivable before.
In terms of practical organisation of the arbitral proceedings, the modern technologies are present now in the arbitration proceedings. We can see videoconferencing, document management platforms, visual tools to make presentations – even 3D simulations of various technical issues relevant to the dispute being presented to the arbitrators as demonstrative exhibits.
Should more be done to improve the transparency of arbitration proceedings?
In investment arbitration, transparency is already established. ICSID is even broadcasting some of the hearings online.
But, in my view, transparency should not be an aim for commercial arbitration. The most important quality of commercial arbitration was its capacity to adapt the procedure to the needs of the parties, and this flexibility should be the aim. Parties should be the one to decide whether they wish for transparency and to what degree.
On the other hand, the arbitral awards are valuable for the development of the legal thinking, so I would encourage the redacted publication of such awards.
If you could implement one reform in international arbitration, what would it be?
I would adapt the arbitration rules of the main arbitral institutions worldwide and provide the necessary procedural mechanism and technical solutions for solving disputes around blockchain, smart contracts and trading platforms. Otherwise, a new territory of alternative dispute resolution mechanism shall develop from scratch, without the benefit of the embedded experience of the existing arbitral institutions. I am working a lot with the blockchain industry and I can see where international trade goes. International arbitration should not stay behind.
What role do you see third-party funding playing in arbitration moving forward?
I think that there is room for developing a relationship between third-party funding and the insurance companies. They are both addressing the same risk (need for funding of arbitration or litigation fees), except at the moment of making the assessment. I would look into a potential distribution of such risk and explore a potential dual-product.
How does LDDP distinguish itself from competition?
While being a local firm, with no international affiliation, LDDP is in the unique position to have an arbitration team with a staff size, and experience in commercial and investment arbitration, comparable with that of international firms. No less than 15 of our lawyers specialise in arbitration, and their experience include roles as counsel, arbitrators and experts in over 200 cases. We also have a deep understanding of the role of the domestic and international arbitral institutions – I am a past vice president of the ICC Court and currently a member of the board of directors of the Silicon Valley Arbitration and Mediation Center. My colleague Stefan Deaconu is the president of the main Romanian arbitral institution, attached to the national chamber of commerce and industry. We are able, therefore, to provide top legal services without the burden of high administrative costs, and we have less conflict of interests.
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 think the younger generation is well trained and they know perfectly how to use international networking. They should be the first ones to trust each other. Young counsel should appoint young arbitrators more, and there are a lot of young companies where trust in such appointments is not difficult to get. As for experienced lawyers, I can see their role mainly in the territory of building trust.
"She has extensive and a great depth of experience - highly recommended"
"Crenguta is a client-oriented lawyer, with global and strategic vision of cases"
"Such a force in Romania and a great colleague"
"I am very impressed by her accomplishments as counsel and arbitrator"
"She is strong in IP disputes"
Crenguta Leaua has acted as counsel in arbitrations under the rules of ICSID, ICC, WIPO, VIAC as well of various local arbitral institutions.
She has over 20 years experience as arbitrator. She is past vice president of the ICC Court. She was a member of ICC task forces on climate change and arbitration, on arbitrating construction disputes, on decisions as to costs and on criminal law and arbitration. She is currently a member of the Board of the Silicon Valley Arbitration and Mediation Center and chair of SVAMC task force on use of arbitration and mediation for blockchain-based transactions. She is a member of the panel of arbitrators of many arbitral institutions: the Romanian Court of International Commercial Arbitration, VIAC (Vienna), the Bulgarian, Polish, Moldavian and Slovenian courts of arbitration, the WIPO list of neutrals for intellectual property disputes, the SVAMC Tech List – list of world’s leading technology neutrals and the CIETAC and SHIAC (China) lists of arbitrators.
She holds a PhD, magna cum laude, in corporate litigation from Bucharest University and a habilitatus degree from the Bucharest University of Economics. She also attended executive education programmes at the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and at the London School of Economics.
She is a professor in business law and comparative international arbitration at the Bucharest University of Economics, where she supervises Ph.D. thesis on international arbitration, and a visiting professor of construction arbitration at the Bucharest University Faculty of Law. She has been invited to lecture students at Sciences Po and Georgetown and was a visiting scholar at Columbia Law School.
Crenguta Leaua has acted as counsel in commercial arbitral proceedings under the rules of the ICSID, ICC, WIPO, VIAC and the Court of International Commercial Arbitration by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Romania. She has also acted as counsel in ad hoc arbitrations under UNCITRAL rules or various national laws.
Crenguta is a past vice president and member of the ICC Court, and a current member of the ICC commission on arbitration. She is a member of the ICC task force on climate change and arbitration, and was a member of the ICC task force on decisions as to costs and of the task force on criminal law and arbitration. She has acted as a member of the IBA subcommittee on conflict of interests in arbitration. She is a member of the panel of arbitrators of the Romanian Court of International Commercial Arbitration, of which she has also been vice president (2008–2012). She is a member of the panel of arbitrators of the Vienna International Arbitration Centre; the Bulgarian, Polish, Moldavian and Slovenian courts of arbitration attached to the chambers of commerce of these countries; the WIPO list of neutrals for intellectual property disputes; and the CIETAC and SHIAC (China) lists of arbitrators. She was appointed as arbitrator in cases under the rule of the Danish Institute of Arbitration and in ad hoc arbitrations.
She has written numerous publications and made numerous presentations in conferences on international commercial arbitration, including “Arbitration of Foreign Investments Disputes and Romania”, “The Right to a Fair Trial in International Commercial Arbitration – Introductive Considerations”, “The Appointing Authority in International Commercial Arbitration”, “The Party Autonomy in the Appointment of Arbitrators” and “The un-constitutionality exception and arbitration”. She has also authored or co-authored several books including Arbitration in Romania – A practitioner’s guide (Kluwer International, 2016); Commercial companies: special proceedings (2008, 2009); a reference book on Romanian intra-corporate litigation; and Business Law: General Notions of Private Law (2012).
She graduated from the faculty of legal and administrative sciences at Lucian Blaga University of Sibiu, and the law faculty of Ecological University, Bucharest. She received her licence from Alexandru Ioan Cuza University Law School in Iasi, Romania. She holds a PhD, magna cum laude, in corporate litigation from Bucharest University Faculty of Law. She also attended the executive education programmes of the John F Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University and the London School of Economics. Currently, she is an associate professor in business law at the Bucharest University of Economic Studies, and a visiting professor of international comparative arbitration and construction arbitration on the international arbitration LLM programme at the Bucharest University Faculty of Law. She has been invited to lecture students at various universities such as Sciences Po and Georgetown, and also was a visiting scholar at Columbia Law School (New York).
She is fluent in Romanian, English and French, and has a good command of Italian and basic knowledge of German.