Mauro Rubino-Sammartano is a partner in the construction group at LawFed BRSA, which acts for construction companies, public companies, foreign states and developers. As well as advising and assisting them in their negotiations and problems, he has – for some decades – been active in large international arbitrations concerning construction. He has taught arbitration at university level; authored books on arbitration and construction law; and writes and lectures regularly in both fields. He frequently sits as arbitrator.
What attracted you to a career in construction law?
I was involved with a major contractor in legal issues related to dams in Africa and the Middle East. I liked helping to solve legal problems in such huge international projects.
What motivated you to specialise in arbitration?
As is well known, international construction disputes end up in arbitration. I liked it very much because arbitration allows parties to choose the procedural rules and arbitrators.
How does your experience as an academic and author enhance your practice?
My research and teaching has forced me to clarify problems for myself. This was definitely helpful in preparing for negotiations when acting as counsel/sitting as an arbitrator.
What is your personal philosophy with regard to the role of the arbitrator in construction matters?
To me, the arbitrator must ensure that the parties and experts clarify to the arbitrator all the problems related to the dispute, its critical path, the ripple effects and so on. The arbitrator must act with humility and humanity.
How has the growth in alternative dispute resolution impacted the jurisprudence of construction law?
Alternative dispute resolution has enabled a more common approach to various legal problems in construction disputes. As a result, counsel dealing with international construction disputes frequently understand each other much better.
What challenges does Brexit pose for the construction sphere?
The severance of the UK from the EU will not encourage the establishment of common ground. Nevertheless, the English approach to construction disputes by counsel and quantity surveyors remains an important asset, and this goes for the other European states.
What advice would you give to younger arbitrators hoping to one day be in your position?
I would advise younger arbitrators to study construction law; to work closely with arbitrators who have more experience; to publish comments and articles (and express their views on related issues); and to act in the spirit of service, without giving priority to financial or other success.
You have enjoyed a very distinguished career. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
I have enjoyed serving as chair of various associations and committees, including my currently role as chair of the European Court of Arbitration (which has its headquarters in Strasbourg), and co-founding the European Society of Construction Law.
I have always focused on serving these bodies, and on understanding, analysing and proposing new ideas.
I feel committed to continue my search for new horizons in construction and arbitration, and particularly arbitration of construction disputes.
Mauro Rubino Sammartano is a stalwart of the European arbitration market, with peers identifying him as "an impressive construction arbitrator, who is always professional and efficient".
Mauro Rubino-Sammartano is a chartered arbitrator. He has been admitted to the Paris Bar and is an associate member, as an arbitrator, of a set of barristers’ chambers in London, Littleton Chambers. He chairs the European Court of Arbitration, the International School of Arbitration and Mediation for the Mediterranean and the Middle East, and the arbitration group of LawFed BRSA. He has launched the European Court of Arbitration Main Points, which characterise its approach to arbitration.
He sits as an arbitrator, appears as counsel in arbitral proceedings and in courts for challenges against awards. He is a paladin of the full right of a party to call evidence and to examine witnesses without undue interference.
He has been a visiting professor at the universities of Milan and Padua, and has chaired the International Association of Lawyers (UIA), as well as the IBA’s international construction, international sales, and mediation committees.
His main textbooks are Arbitrage International (fourth edition in French, Bruylant 2019), International Arbitration: Law and Practice (third edition, Juris 2014), Il Diritto dell’Arbitrato (“Arbitration Law”, sixth edition, Cedam, 2010), and Appalti di Opere e Contratti di Servizi (“Construction Law and Contracts for Services”, Cedam 2006).
His articles include “A Continuous Search for New Horizons” (ARIA 2012, volume 23, no. 2), “The Arbitrator's Pledge Launched by the European Court of Arbitration” (ARIA 2015, volume 26, no. 4) and “A Second (Quasi-Perfect) Storm Also in Arbitration” (JOIA, volume 34, no. 6, 2017).
He has written and is writing extensively on arbitration, mediation and construction in English, French and Italian.