Bonelli Erede Pappalardo, Rome
Why international arbitration?
Because it is at the crossroad of several fields of law, which makes it intellectually fascinating; and because it is practised by a genuinely international legal community, which makes it culturally fascinating.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
A couple of well-known ICSID cases, Salini v Jordan and Astaldi v Algeria, and an ICC case that is still ongoing, where the seat of arbitration is Nepal. There are several cases I’ve enjoyed - not all successful and not all very important in economic terms.
Who do you consider your mentor?
Andrea Giardina, who introduced me to the world of international arbitration.
Who else in the field do you admire?
Piero Bernadini, Yves Derains and Alan Redfern are among the arbitrators I admire. I’ve also been impressed by Philippe Sands QC, who was my opponent in the Salini case.
What other career might you have chosen?
Probably an international civil servant, as a legal counsel.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
I would advise him or her to also specialise in one or more specific substantive matters, because international arbitration is not just procedure.
Do you sit as an arbitrator?
Yes, I have done so in several cases. I was appointed for the first time aged 34 by the ICC.
What are the biggest challenges facing arbitration?
Establishing a universally shared culture of international arbitration and a common sensitivity concerning ethics and procedural conduct, and overcoming parochial approaches. Also reducing the costs (especially legal fees), which are often unjustified.
If you could change one thing about the system...?
There is generally too much of the jet-set life.
What’s been your most memorable moment in a hearing?
The fight between the technical expert appointed by my client and the opposing counsel. They started punching each other during cross-examination. The fact that this took place in Zanzibar makes it all the more memorable.
What’s your favourite city to arbitrate in?
Work has taken me to several exotic places (including Kathmandu, Zanzibar and Bangkok) but Paris remains my favourite place for arbitration, not only because it is probably the most arbitration-friendly seat in the world, but also because it’s like playing soccer at the Maracanã or singing at La Scala.
What’s your favourite restaurant?
Spoon Food and Wine, in rue Marignan, Paris.