Alexis Mourre
Office:
33-43 avenue du Président Wilson
75116
City:
Paris
Country:
France
Tel:
+33 1 49 53 29 47

Questions and Answers:

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders Global Elite

Alexis Mourre has served as parties’ counsel, president of the tribunal, co-arbitrator, sole arbitrator and expert in more than 260 international arbitrations, both ad hoc and before most international arbitral institutions (ICC, ICSID, LCIA, ICDR, SIAC, SCC, DIAC, VIAC, etc). He established his own arbitration practice in May 2015, after having founded Castaldi Mourre & Partners in 1996, now a 35-lawyer firm specialising in arbitration and dispute resolution.

What do you enjoy most about practising in arbitration law?

The fact that parties with deeply diverging interests will all trust you to do justice. Differently to a judge, the arbitrator’s powers rest on the parties’ choice. Being selected as an arbitrator is an honour and a great responsibility. It is also a source of considerable pride and satisfaction.

What is the most challenging part of acting as an arbitrator?

There are many. An arbitrator needs to be on top of the case, to understand the issues, he or she needs to keep the balance between the parties equal and to conduct the proceedings fairly. An arbitrator needs to be authoritative and efficient in his or her case management. He or she also needs to be bold enough to make the right decisions without being intimidated. This being said, I would suggest that the greatest challenge faced by arbitrators is to keep an open mind to the parties’ arguments throughout and until the parties have fully presented their case. There is always the risk of forming a view on the case at a too early stage, which affects your ability to hear the parties and fully understand their arguments.

What is the most memorable arbitration case you have been a part of?

What immediately comes to my mind is a sports case. I was once selected to chair an interesting football dispute, where significant interests of a major international soccer team were at stake. Parties would normally select you for your experience in the field. Yet, in that particular case, among other more usual requirements, the parties asked that the president of the tribunal had no personal interest in football, and to not be a supporter of any team. A rather unusual requirement of absence of qualification!

You have recently been re-elected as president of the ICC. What would you still like to achieve in the role?

The Court has achieved a lot in my first term. Four new offices have been opened, two of which are case management offices (in São Paulo and Singapore) and two representation offices (in Shanghai and Abu Dhabi). The Rules have been revised, notably to introduce our already very successful expedited rules. Our practices have been modernised, with the introduction of measures aimed at increasing transparency, fostering efficiency and establishing the highest level of ethics. We have increased our global reach, in particular by creating the ICC Court Belt and Road Commission, as well as dedicated Court commissions for India and Africa. We have considerably improved the gender, generational and regional diversity in both the Court itself and our arbitrators’ appointments, and I am in this respect very proud that the new Court has equal participation of women and men. Yet, there is still much to do. We will have to further increase the quality of our case management services, in particular as to the awards’ scrutiny process. We will also aim at improving the responsiveness of our teams and to better adapt to the particular needs of our users in each case. The introduction of a new IT tool for the Court will allow us to increase the accessibility of data and interactivity of our services. And we will, of course, continue to improve the transparency as well as the cost and time-efficiency of ICC arbitrations.

How has the approach to case management in the arbitration field changed since you started your career?

There is surely much more attention given now than 25 or 30 years ago to matters of case management. I would say that practice has evolved along several lines.

First, there is an increasingly transnational approach to case management, and we see fewer arbitrators applying techniques drawn from their local judicial background. This evolution has been supported and encouraged via the work done by the IBA, as well as by ICCA and other international arbitration bodies. There is now a common playing field, and that is positive. From that perspective, I do not believe that initiatives such as the Prague Rules go in the right direction and will be successful.

Second, there is now general awareness of the importance of the initial case management conference and of early consultation with the parties on evidentiary matters.

Finally, as considerations of efficiency are becoming more meaningful, and as arbitrators are better prepared than in the past, tribunals show more readiness to address issues in stages when appropriate, including by bifurcating, discussing relevant matters in interim procedural conferences or entertaining motions for the early dismissal of manifestly unmeritorious claims or defences.

What impact has the push for time efficiency in arbitration cases had on the practice area?

Apart from what I previously mentioned concerning case management, there have been essentially two impacts. First, there is now more attention paid to the necessary availability of prospective arbitrators, and institutions (such as the ICC) require more transparency in this regard. Second, institutions exercise more control of the efficient conduct over the case. As a consequence, tribunals are required to deliberate as soon as possible, and institutions exercise control on the time needed to make the award after the last substantive step. The ICC has, for example, decided to set strict time limits for so doing, with fee reductions in case of an unjustified delay.

How do you think the arbitration market will evolve in the near future?

It will become an ever more diverse and competitive marketplace, with heightened ethical and efficiency standards. Conflict disclosure requirements will become stricter. As the arbitral community will expand and become more diverse, with an important generational change to come, the acceptance of transnational ethical rules for both counsel and arbitrators will become of primary importance. Finally, because of the need for more time and cost-efficiency, there will be a continuous evolution towards more proactive and robust case management practices.

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

Never think you can mislead your tribunal.

Who's Who Legal Thought Leaders - Arbitration

Alexis is president of the ICC International Court of Arbitration and past chair of the IBA arbitration committee. He has participated as counsel or arbitrator in more than 250 arbitration proceedings under most international rules, and since 1 May 2015 has established his independent arbitrator practice. He is the author of several books and many articles on international arbitration and private international law. He is fluent in French, English, Spanish and Italian, and has good knowledge of Portuguese.

WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO A CAREER IN INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION?

The unique mix of public, private and comparative law applied to international relations, as well as the combination of legal and economic analysis that is applied in arbitration. I was also attracted by the transnational nature of the arbitration community and the cross-fertilisation and constant exchanges that exist between practitioners of different legal cultures and backgrounds.

AS AN INDEPENDENT ARBITRATOR, HOW DO YOU MAINTAIN YOUR PROFILE WITHIN THE ARBITRATION COMMUNITY?

By trying to give the best possible service in each case in which I have the honour to serve. No award is perfect, but we should aim at listening to the parties, understanding the issues, and exercising independent judgement in order to correctly decide each case. In doing so, an arbitrator should be available and well prepared, display humility, and show openness. He or she should also have the necessary authority and case management skills. It is the combination of all these qualities that allow an arbitrator to maintain its reputation and profile in the community.

OVER THE LAST FEW YEARS, HOW HAS THE COMPETITION IN THE MARKET BETWEEN ARBITRATORS DEVELOPED?

The pool of available arbitrators has expanded, and there is much more diversity, which is a healthy phenomenon. There are more women available, young practitioners and arbitrators from emerging jurisdictions. I see much more attention paid by in-house counsel to the selection of arbitrators. These decisions are no longer entirely left to counsel, which is also very positive. Finally, there is a significant effort on the part of users to gather objective information on the profile of prospective arbitrators and their past record, rather than merely relying on the prestige of their name. Overall, it is a more open, transparent and competitive marketplace.

THERE HAVE BEEN CALLS FOR INCREASED TRANSPARENCY IN COMMERCIAL ARBITRATION. WHAT POTENTIAL ISSUES COULD THE CONFLICT BETWEEN CONFIDENTIALITY AND TRANSPARENCY LEAD TO FOR ARBITRATORS?

The rise of transparency in international arbitration will challenge arbitrators in multiple ways. First, there will be more and more information available on arbitrators, including in respect of the various cases in which they may have participated in different capacities. Initiatives such as the publication by the ICC of the composition of its tribunals, or platforms such as Arbitrator Intelligence, will contribute to encourage arbitrators to be more transparent and forthcoming in their conflicts disclosures. Transparency will also pose new challenges to arbitrators in those cases, generally based on treaty, where they have to deal with public hearings and requests to hear amici curiae. Knowing that their award will be public also adds pressure on arbitrators to provide clear and comprehensive reasoning for their decisions. Finally, even in cases where confidentiality applies, there will increasingly be applications and objections relating to the parties’ reporting obligations, be it to the parties’ boards, to regulators or to market authorities.

YOU RECENTLY SPOKE ABOUT THE NEED FOR IMPROVED COOPERATION BETWEEN ARBITRAL INSTITUTIONS. HOW DO YOU THINK THAT INSTITUTIONAL COOPERATION WITHIN THE INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION COMMUNITY CAN BEST BE ACHIEVED?

I addressed this question in my Hendrix lecture in Atlanta. There are many areas in which inter-institutional cooperation would be beneficial, such as consultations aimed at determining prima facie the competent institution in case of pathological clauses, exchanging information on the performance of arbitrators, building a common platform for the publication of awards, or helping arbitrators to secure professional insurance. This can be achieved through informal bilateral or multilateral contacts. IFCAI would also be an ideal tool for this.

IN YOUR CAREER SO FAR, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY HAS BEEN YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?

To have had the great honour and immense privilege to lead the ICC International Court of Arbitration in the challenging times that arbitration is living. The Court has modernised its practices so as to ensure more transparency, introduced the highest standards of ethics for arbitrators and counsels and adopted procedures so as to reduce the time and costs of ICC arbitrations. We have also increased our global reach by opening new offices in Shanghai, São Paulo, Abu Dhabi and Singapore, two of which have dedicated case management teams. To have led these important projects, among others, while successfully maintaining my independent arbitrator practice, is a source of great pride and satisfaction.

HOW DO YOU EXPECT THE PRACTICE OF INTERNATIONAL ARBITRATION TO DEVELOP OVER THE NEXT FIVE YEARS?

It will change significantly. Whether the right horizon is five years does not really matter. First, there will be added pressure on the part of users to improve the time and cost efficiency of arbitration proceedings. Some arbitral institutions, such as the ICC, have introduced expedited rules that apply below a certain amount in dispute. We are likely to see increases to such thresholds, and users will also more frequently opt into these expedited arbitrations for cases that would otherwise not qualify. A second trend is likely to be an increased expectation of transparency regarding arbitrators’ conflicts disclosures. I also expect consensus to grow in the arbitration community on the need for ethical rules for counsel, whether on the model of the IBA Guidelines of Party Representation or of institutional rules such the annex to the LCIA Rules. Finally, the increased diversity of the arbitration community will lead to fewer arbitrators and counsel originating from Western Europe and North America, and the rise of a new generation coming from Asia and Africa.

Biography:

Who's Who Legal Arbitration: Lawyers

Alexis Mourre has served as parties’ counsel, president of the tribunal, co-arbitrator, sole arbitrator and expert in more than 260 international arbitrations, both ad hoc and before most international arbitral institutions (ICC, ICSID, LCIA, ICDR, SIAC, SCC, DIAC, VIAC, etc). He established his own arbitration practice in May 2015, after having founded Castaldi Mourre & Partners in 1996, now a 35-lawyer firm specialising in arbitration and dispute resolution.

He is the author of numerous books and publications in the field of international business law, private international law and arbitration law. He is founder and former editor in chief of Les Cahiers de l’Arbitrage – The Paris Journal of International Arbitration, a leading French publication in the field of Arbitration.

Since 1 July 2015, Alexis Mourre has been the president of the ICC International Court of Arbitration and was vice president of the Court from 2009 to 2015. He was vice president of the ICC Institute of World Business Law from 2011 to 2015. Former roles include co-chair of the IBA Arbitration Committee (2012-2013), LCIA Court member (2012-2015) and council member of the Milan International Chamber of Arbitration (2006-2014). He is a member of a large number of scientific and professional institutions dedicated to Arbitration and Private International Law. He is the founder and former president of Paris Arbitration.

He is fluent in French, English, Italian and Spanish, and has a working knowledge of Portuguese.

WWL says: Alexis Mourre is widely endorsed as “one of the leading arbitrators in the world” by peers, who describe him as “a key figure” in commercial and investor-state arbitration. He is a distinguished practitioner with a wealth of experience as both arbitrator and counsel.

This biography is an extract from Who's Who Legal: Arbitration which can be purchased from our Shop.

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