Paz Horowitz Robalino Garces, Quito
Why international arbitration?
It has become one of the few ways to seek justice in unstable democracies.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
The recent settlement of the Noble litigation in June 2011. I was able to terminate the case, get my client paid with no delay, and let Ecuador keep the assets to develop those facilities. That is a classic win-win scenario.
Who do you consider your mentor?
Doak Bishop. His generosity, kindness and humility make him exemplary. He trained and inspired me and continues to do so.
Who else in the field do you especially admire.
I admire Edward Kehoe for his ability to convey a message with a smile and make it so simple. Nigel Blackaby is great under pressure and can summarise a case and strategy in minutes. Eduardo Zuleta is superb when a wise and profound analysis is needed. Jan Paulsson amuses with his eloquence, unlimited knowledge and generosity. Guido Tawil has a combination of administrative and international law expertise that makes him so effective in investment cases.
What other career might you have chosen?
I would have chosen administrative law, which is under a process of globalisation. I believe that law cannot simply be divided into categories. Legal systems are in a permanent process of integration. International arbitration is in itself a means for such integration.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
To be passionate about what you do. Also, any young lawyer from a developing country must have at least an LLM or some kind of international education, with a strong background in international law. Practice is scarce so I would advise participating in moot competitions.
Do you sit as an arbitrator?
Yes, in local centres. My first case was four years ago. Before then I was an arbitral secretary for 10 years. I also belong to regional lists, although I have no case as arbitrator yet. I have been nominated to an ICSID case, but the appointment has not been completed yet.
What are the biggest challenges facing arbitration?
Commercial and investor–state arbitration face different challenges, but the more complicated concern the latter. Countries, not only developing ones, are questioning its benefits - for reasons including delays, costs and issue conflicts. The big challenge is for academics, states and practitioners to get together and adapt the system, while protecting it at the same time.
If you could change one thing about the system...?
I would make it more accessible. Its penetration and acceptance has to broader.
What’s your favourite city to arbitrate in?
What’s your favourite restaurant?
La Trianera in Madrid. Seafood.