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Who's Who Legal
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Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Thought Leader

Thought Leaders - Construction 2020


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 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say

"Highly regarded as one of the most experienced arbitrators in Italy"
"I was impressed with his knowledge and understanding of the field and its various ins and outs"
"Everyone who works with him looks up to him greatly"


Mauro Rubino-Sammartano is a chartered arbitrator. He has been admitted to the Italian Bar and 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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