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Eric Schwartz

Eric Schwartz

Eric A Schwartz150 East 58th Street25th FloorNew YorkUSA10155 USA
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Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Questions & Answers

Eric Schwartz is an American and French international arbitration lawyer. Based in New York, he practises independently as an arbitrator and as an arbitrator member of Fountain Court Chambers in London. Eric was formerly a partner of King & Spalding in Paris and New York, and earlier in his career was a Paris-based partner of Freshfields. From 1992 to 1996 he served as secretary general of the ICC International Court of Arbitration, of which he was vice president from 2012 to 2015.

WHAT DREW YOU TO A CAREER IN ARBITRATION?

I fell into an arbitration career by serendipity. As a young lawyer in the 1970s, raised and educated in the United States, my goal was to find a way to get myself to Paris, unaware that that would open a door into the world of international arbitration, which was at the time unknown to me and on the cusp of becoming much more of a practice area than it was then. Within six months of arriving in Paris in 1978, I was assigned to work on an ICC arbitration matter in London that concerned a dispute between Finns and Iranians (just before and during the Iranian revolution). The diverse cast of characters, the novelty (for me) of the process and the opportunity to work with English, Finnish and Iranian lawyers on legal issues in all three countries captivated me. I knew, from that moment, that I had found my vocation, and I have been fortunate to have been able to make international arbitration my career for 40 years.

ARE THERE ANY ASPECTS OF INFRASTRUCTURE ARBITRATIONS YOU PARTICULARLY ENJOY?

Before studying law, I was drawn to mathematics and the sciences. I have always enjoyed understanding how things work and are built, and, at one point, I considered a possible career in architecture. So I felt a natural affinity for the field when I first became involved, which was very early in my career. That said, digesting the volume and complexity of the many factual issues in such arbitrations is a never-ending challenge. Notwithstanding all the advice about how such arbitrations can or should be run more efficiently and cost-effectively, there is not likely to be a substitute for mastering what is often a very complex file, and that often feels, at the outset, like trying to scale Mount Everest, with all of the effort, planning and time that that inevitably entails.

HOW WOULD YOU ASSESS THE IMPACT OF THE NEW ICC GUIDELINES ON AWARD DEADLINES?

Very positively. They are challenging and often cannot be satisfied in very complex cases. But nevertheless, they act as a reasonable restraint on arbitrators over-committing themselves, which has been and continues to be a problem (although today arbitrators will more frequently pause, than they used to do, before accepting an engagement).

WHAT OTHER DRIVES FOR CHANGE HAVE YOU SEEN FROM ICC?

Actively promoting diversity within the institution and in ICC arbitrations. I appreciate that change may not have come quickly enough for some, but a sea change has occurred over the past three decades. When I joined the ICC in 1992, there was not a single female counsel working at the ICC Court; today the ICC can also claim to be a truly global institution, with the development of offices on almost every continent. Of course, the growth of emergency and expedited arbitration, together with a greater emphasis on transparency, have also been important developments. Looking back to the early 1990s, the institution is in many ways unrecognisable, and I have little doubt that the same will be said 25 years hence.

HOW DO YOU THINK INVESTMENT ARBITRATION WILL BE AFFECTED BY THE ACHMEA RULING?

Like many in the arbitration community, I find Achmea to be a very unfortunate and misguided ruling. The effect on investment arbitration in Europe will be negative. However, I expect that companies will rethink the manner in which they structure their European investments. More generally, I find the solutions to investor-state dispute settlement being advocated by the EU and others to be very unsatisfactory. It is ironic that an investment arbitration system that was once embraced and promoted by capital-exporting countries in the West for use in the developing world is now shunned as improper when directed against those same capital-exporting countries.

WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO SET UP YOUR OWN ARBITRATION PRACTICE?

Because I wished to give up counsel work and act only as an arbitrator, which is difficult in the context of a large law firm.

LOOKING BACK OVER YOUR CAREER, WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR PROUDEST ACHIEVEMENT?

Initiating and helping to bring to fruition the changes made to the ICC Rules in 1998 and, more generally, from my perch as Secretary General of the ICC Court, contributing to the evolution of international arbitration practice and the ICC Court during those years, including hiring the ICC Court’s first women counsel.

WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE LOOKING TO START THEIR OWN ARBITRATION PRACTICE?

If the aim is to act only as an arbitrator and, over the years, one has developed a strong profile as an experienced arbitration practitioner, then one should not hesitate. As I have discovered, independent arbitrators are in great demand and, without the conflicts that are inevitable in a law firm setting, appointments are much easier to accept. As I have also discovered, in the electronic world in which we operate today, the logistics of working on one’s own, from just about anywhere, are far less daunting than I had imagined.

Global Leader

Arbitration 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Eric Schwartz enjoys an “outstanding reputation” as “an absolutely terrific and very sharp arbitrator”. He is a distinguished expert in commercial and investment disputes in the infrastructure and energy sectors and is well known for “resolving issues with no fuss and no drama”.

Biography

Eric Schwartz retired as a partner in the international arbitration group of King & Spalding and now practises independently as an arbitrator and as an arbitrator member of Fountain Court Chambers in London. He is a former secretary general (1992–1996), court member (2006–2012) and vice president (2012–2015) of the ICC International Court of Arbitration. He currently serves as a vice-chair of the ICC institute of world business law.

Over the course of four decades of legal practice, Eric has acted as counsel and as an arbitrator in international arbitration proceedings in all the principal European arbitration venues, as well as in Africa, Asia and North America. He has particular expertise in relation to disputes concerning large infrastructure projects as well as investment treaties and complex cross-border transactions in the energy, IP or IT and pharmaceutical sectors.

Although Eric is especially well known for his ICC arbitration experience, he has also acted in arbitrations under the rules of the American Arbitration Association, CIETAC, the European Development Fund, the ICDR, the Netherlands Arbitration Institute, the LCIA, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and the Vienna International Arbitration Centre, in addition to ICSID and UNCITRAL. He has experience of disputes under a variety of legal systems, including those of France, England, Switzerland, the United States and multiple jurisdictions across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Eric is the author of dozens of articles on international arbitration practice as well as the co-author (with Yves Derains) of A Guide to the ICC Rules of Arbitration (Kluwer, 2nd ed, 2005) and the editor of several other books, including (with B Hanotiau) Multiparty Arbitration (ICC 2010) and Class and Group Actions in Arbitration (ICC 2016).

Eric was educated at Dartmouth College (BA 1973) and Yale University (JD 1976) and is a member of the California Bar and an emeritus member of the Paris Bar. He is fluent in English and French.

Construction 2019

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

The "superb" Eric Schwartz attracts praise from peers in the US and internationally for his construction arbitration practice, with significant experience in matters involving large infrastructure projects.

Biography

Eric Schwartz retired as a partner in the international arbitration group of King & Spalding and now practises independently as an arbitrator and as an arbitrator member of Fountain Court Chambers in London. He is a former secretary general (1992–1996), court member (2006–2012) and vice president (2012–2015) of the ICC International Court of Arbitration. He currently serves as a vice-chair of the ICC institute of world business law.

Over the course of four decades of legal practice, Eric has acted as counsel and as an arbitrator in international arbitration proceedings in all the principal European arbitration venues, as well as in Africa, Asia and North America. He has particular expertise in relation to disputes concerning large infrastructure projects as well as investment treaties and complex cross-border transactions in the energy, IP or IT and pharmaceutical sectors.

Although Eric is especially well known for his ICC arbitration experience, he has also acted in arbitrations under the rules of the American Arbitration Association, CIETAC, the European Development Fund, the ICDR, the Netherlands Arbitration Institute, the LCIA, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, the Singapore International Arbitration Centre and the Vienna International Arbitration Centre, in addition to ICSID and UNCITRAL. He has experience of disputes under a variety of legal systems, including those of France, England, Switzerland, the United States and multiple jurisdictions across the Middle East, Africa and Asia.

Eric is the author of dozens of articles on international arbitration practice as well as the co-author (with Yves Derains) of A Guide to the ICC Rules of Arbitration (Kluwer, 2nd ed, 2005) and the editor of several other books, including (with B Hanotiau) Multiparty Arbitration (ICC 2010) and Class and Group Actions in Arbitration (ICC 2016).

Eric was educated at Dartmouth College (BA 1973) and Yale University (JD 1976) and is a member of the California Bar and an emeritus member of the Paris Bar. He is fluent in English and French.

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