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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Eric Schwartz

Eric Schwartz

Eric A Schwartz150 East 58th Street25th FloorNew YorkNew YorkUSA10155 USA

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Arbitration 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Eric Schwartz is "a go-to arbitrator for high-stakes commercial disputes" and is considered "a very strong manager of the process and of hearings, as well as very precise and smart in deliberations".

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 a vice president from 2012 to 2015. After practising in Paris, with a brief stint in Brussels, for 34 years, he moved to New York in 2012. He earned his law degree at Yale in 1976, and is a member of the California Bar and an emeritus member of the Paris Bar.

What do you enjoy most about working as an arbitrator? 

After working for nearly 40 years as an advocate, it is liberating to be able to focus my attention not on how to present a client’s case in the best possible light, but on making what appears to be the right decision in order to resolve a dispute, without having to account to anything other than my conscience for it. Of course, there are stresses and challenges involved, particularly when the issues are not clear-cut, as they often are not, and the counsel are talented. And I enjoy the art of crafting a well-reasoned award. But, apart from that, it is immensely stimulating to be able to collaborate with the talented and interesting group of people all over the world that appear in the cases in which I am involved.

To what extent are increasing concerns around data protection affecting arbitration proceedings?

Probably not enough yet. We are only gradually coming to terms with all of the relevant issues, both in relation to data protection and cybersecurity. Initiatives such as the ICCA-NY City Bar-CPR Protocol on Cybersecurity in International Arbitration need to be accompanied by more guidance from the arbitral institutions and the parties themselves. But the related issues are receiving increased attention in the cases in which I am involved. In progressing, the arbitrators need as much help as possible from the parties.

How would you assess the ICC’s efforts to maintain efficiency and cost-effectiveness of proceedings?

I cannot overstate the role that the parties have to play in helping to ensure that proceedings are run efficiently and cost-efficiently, no matter how much encouragement they may receive from institutions such as the ICC with respect to this issue. I nevertheless believe that one of the most effective initiatives that the ICC has adopted in recent years is the issuance of guidelines to arbitrators on award deadlines. They are challenging for arbitrators and often cannot be satisfied in very complex cases. But nevertheless, they are having a positive impact and act as a reasonable restraint on arbitrators over-committing themselves, which has been and continues to be a problem (although today arbitrators will pause more frequently than they used to before accepting an engagement). 

What is the biggest way in which arbitration proceedings have evolved during your four-decade spanning career?

They have become much more complex, with a multiplication of interlocutory applications for interim measures of all kinds; security for costs (nearly unheard of 25 years ago outside a few jurisdictions); the transformation of document production into what increasingly resembles a full-blown discovery exercise (which was not the original intention of the drafters of the IBA rules); and the general push for more transparency, with all that that may entail in respect of institutional decision-making. While much of this is good and understandable, particularly in high-stakes cases, it is important to bear in mind that many of these developments have contributed to making arbitration more expensive and less efficient. 

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? 

Younger arbitration practitioners should focus on becoming the best lawyers that they can and gaining substantial experience as advocates. I was nearly 50 when I received my first appointment, and I believe that I was a better arbitrator for having laboured in the trenches as counsel for as long as I had before acceding to the more comfortable chair. That being said, make yourself known to the community by writing, speaking, participating in organisations and distinguishing yourself in the counsel seat.

What efforts need to be made to ensure the legal market continues to become more diverse in coming years?

We share a collective responsibility to make this happen: institutions, arbitrators, parties, counsel and all those who wish to enter the market. I have often heard it said that diversity does not happen by itself, and I agree. We all need to be conscious of, and working towards, this goal in the choices that we make every day.

Your practice spans a range of sectors. How important is sector-specific knowledge on the arbitrator’s part when handling commercial disputes? 

Very helpful, particularly in technical sectors, such as construction, which I know best; and also in fields where knowledge of a particular area of the law (eg, investment arbitration) is important. It is, after all, one of the advantages of arbitration that parties may choose their judges, which permits them to select individuals who will not require a steep learning curve during the course of the arbitration. 

What is the best piece of career advice you ever received?

Do what you love. To excel at anything, you must really feel stimulated and passionate about it. So follow your passion.

Global Leader

Arbitration 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Eric Schwartz is "a go-to arbitrator for high-stakes commercial disputes" and is considered "a very strong manager of the process and of hearings, as well as very precise and smart in deliberations".

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 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

Eric Schwartz has an outstanding reputation for his extensive expertise in construction arbitrations.

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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