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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Mauro Rubino-Sammartano

Mauro Rubino-Sammartano

LawFed BRSAViale Cassiodoro 3MilanItaly20145

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader

WWL says

Global Elite Thought Leader Mauro Rubino-Sammartano is described as “an institution” in the construction market by peers. He commands considerable experience as an arbitrator in international construction disputes.

Questions & Answers

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.

Thought Leaders - Construction 2020

Q&A

WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

WWL says

Global Elite Thought Leader Mauro Rubino Sammartano is described as “an institution” in the construction market by peers. He commands considerable experience as an arbitrator in international construction disputes. 

Questions & Answers

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 on construction law; and writes and lectures regularly in both fields. He sits as an arbitrator.
What do you enjoy most about working on disputes?
When I sit as an arbitrator, to find a solution not only in compliance with the law, but also fair; when I act as counsel, the search for the best arguments.
What are the most common sources of construction disputes and how do you think clients can minimise the risks of them occurring?
The most common sources of construction disputes are claims by the contractor against the owner for additional payment and/or extension of time; claims or counterclaims by the Owner for defective work or non completion of the works and disputes between the main contractor and a subcontractor are quite frequent.
Risks may be minimised by negotiating a well-balanced contract, and by following closely the developments of the execution of the works, from a technical but also from a legal point of view, keeping very accurately contemporary records.
How has the construction market evolved since you started practising?
The construction market has evolved in the last decades due to new contractors from Asia; more public companies have been involved as Owners, more joint ventures arrangements have been made. Construction contracts have been used in litigation as an investment, becoming entitled then also to such protection. From a procedural point of view there has been an increasing quantity of exhibited documents, and of challenges of arbitrators for alleged bias. Increase in the use of IT also has largely increased.
How can procedures change to make arbitration more effective?
A sole arbitrator may, except in very large cases, allow a short duration.
The control of compliance with the short time period to file the award, should be more effective. No postponements of such term should be granted in principle. Higher sanctions for long repetition of arguments and/or for the production of many useless exhibits and evidence in general should be applied when allocating the costs.
Has covid-19 had an impact on commercial arbitration? Are parties willing to be flexible in procedure and approach to get it over the line?
Covid-19 has slowed down also the conduct of arbitral proceedings. Videoconferences have turned out to be extremely popular.
You have expertise and experience as an arbitrator and litigator in construction disputes. What are the key skills to have in these proceedings?
The key rule for an arbitrator is to me to conduct the proceedings and to decide with “humanity and humility”.
Counsel’s key skill is to be straightforward, clear, not repetitive and to avoid arguments and conduct which are doomed from the start.
What are the key challenges younger construction lawyers may face in their practice and how can they overcome these?
The key challenges for a younger construction lawyer are not to be able or not to be available to deepen issues and to undertake thorough researc; to take things for granted; to give priority to their career and of course lack of experience.
They may be overcome by devoting time and passion to the work.
Looking back over your career, what is the most memorable case you have worked on?
The most memorable cases I have worked on have been disruption cases, since they are very challenging, and disputes concerning very big concrete dams.

Global Leader

Arbitration 2020

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

WWL says

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".

Biography

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.

WWL Ranking: Recommended

National Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended
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