ao link
Who's Who Legal
Who's Who Legal
Menu
Thought Leaders

Thought Leaders

Thought Leader

WWL Ranking: Global Elite Thought Leader
WWL Ranking: Thought Leader

Peers and clients say

"He is the smartest lawyer in the market"
"Pierre makes easy what looks like confusion and a lost cause"
"He is a shrewd advocate; good for big picture points and opening arguments"
"A dean of the bar"
"Excellent academic and arbitrator"

Questions & Answers

Internationally recognised for his competence, extensive experience and intellectual honesty, Professor Pierre Mayer is considered one of the few great names of international arbitration. He now acts mainly as an arbitrator, in both commercial and investment arbitration procedures. He is a specialist in international arbitration law and private international law, both of which he has taught for decades at the University of Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) where he has served as a professor (1984–2012) and emeritus professor (2012–).

What steps do practitioners need to take in order to maintain their profile in the arbitration community?

Maintaining a profile in the arbitration community requires two things: exhibiting competence and integrity on the job and engaging with the various networking opportunities offered by the arbitration communities. The two are necessary. The recent pandemic makes the networking aspect more difficult, of course, but not impossible. Practitioners should seize the opportunities that remain (publishing articles for example) and adapt to the new circumstances, by participating in online events (“webinars”) and perhaps make greater efforts than before to keep in touch with and grow a diverse network.

In your experience, what makes a good arbitrator?

A good arbitrator is first and foremost a good lawyer, particularly in respect of the law of contracts of their jurisdiction. The proper application of the law to a situation of fact is not simply a matter of legal knowledge; it requires common commercial sense, and a sense of justice. The law is never intended to produce unjust outcomes, but contract parties sometimes bind themselves to manifestly unfair outcomes through their contract terms. Dealing with such situations correctly is not easy. A good arbitrator must also master the art of managing procedural issues, which invariably arise and require skill and experience, I would even call it “talent”. Another necessary talent is that of award drafting, which is a very specific skill. Providing convincing, legally valid reasons to support a solution is not just an abstract requirement. It is often necessary to ensure that the award is voluntarily performed by the losing party.

How has the arbitration market demonstrated its resilience in the face of challenges posed by covid-19?

Arbitrators and counsel have taken a measured approach; at first, when we did not know how the coronavirus pandemic would develop, people were inclined to delay hearings in order to safeguard the possibility of in-person hearings. But when it proved no longer tenable owing to the prolongation of the health situation, people adapted and cooperated to make virtual hearings work, and they have worked pretty well. We have all used new ways of working and discovered new tools that will continue to serve arbitration practice. However, for my part, I much prefer in-person hearings, especially for complex cases.

What are the main challenges facing arbitrators at the moment?

The main challenge for arbitrators with a significant practice in investment-treaty cases are the attacks brought on the system, and political leaders lack of support for ISDS, despite its proven benefits. The increased use of very many new IT solutions and tools is a challenge for some, me included! 

If you could implement one reform in international arbitration, what would it be?

This topic is often discussed and new ideas, often in the form of soft law instruments, emerge now and again. I have to say that I find the current pattern of arbitration proceedings appropriate to most cases, drawing on the strong points of the civil and common law worlds. The document production phase is perhaps overly systematic but in my practice of large complex cases, it is often useful.

In your experience, how important are mentoring and networking for the development of the field?

Transmission and mentoring are natural to me, which is not surprising given my (long) academic career. I have acted as a mentor to many students and young practitioners and am very glad to see them thrive as respected practitioners. This process of transmission is crucial notably to ensure that we do not miss out on the talents of the younger generation, who will be tomorrow’s leaders.

What advice would you give to someone looking to start their own firm?

Be friendly and resilient. Friendliness goes a long way.

Your career has been an illustrious one to date. What else would you like to achieve?

Be a bit less of a workaholic!

Global Leader

Arbitration 2021

Professional Biography

WWL Ranking: Recommended

Peers and clients say

"He is the smartest lawyer in the market"
"Pierre makes easy what looks like confusion and a lost cause"
"He is a shrewd advocate; good for big picture points and opening arguments"
"A dean of the bar"
"Excellent academic and arbitrator"

Biography

Internationally recognised for his competence, extensive experience and intellectual honesty, Professor Pierre Mayer is considered one of the few great names of international arbitration. He now acts mainly as an arbitrator, in both commercial and investment arbitration procedures.

He is a specialist in international arbitration law and private international law, two subjects which he has taught for decades at the University of Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) where he was a professor from 1984 to 2012 and has been an emeritus professor since 2012.

Prior to setting up his own office, Professor Pierre Mayer practiced with Coudert Brothers, Clifford Chance and Dechert, where he was a partner for 10 years.

A French qualified avocat, Professor Pierre Mayer has acted as counsel or arbitrator in hundreds of proceedings under a variety of ad hoc or institutional arbitration rules, in commercial and investment matters. His experience spans a variety of sectors and all forms of contracts.

Professor Pierre Mayer regularly speaks at conferences. He is the author of the reference textbook on French international private law and of a general course at the Hague Academy of International Law. He has published dozens of articles on arbitration law and practice and on private international law.

He is also, inter alia, former president of the International Academy for Arbitration Lawmember of the council of the ICC Institute of World Business Law, member of the board of the Comité français de l’arbitrage, member of the Institut de droit international, and former president of the committee on international commercial arbitration of the International Law Association.

A French national, Professor Pierre Mayer is fluent in English.

National Leader

WWL Ranking: Recommended
Law Business Research
Law Business Research Ltd
Meridian House, 34-35 Farringdon Street
London EC4A 4HL, UK
© Law Business Research Ltd 1998-2021. All rights reserved.
Company No.: 03281866