Karim Hafez
Egypt
  • PositionPartner
  • FirmHafez
  • Age-
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Karim Hafez

Karim Hafez

Egypt
  • Position: Partner
  • FirmHafez
  • Age: -

Partner
39
Hafez, Cairo 
Egyptian

Why international arbitration?

Because I enjoy contentious work and because it is litigation gone global in every sense of the word.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

Successfully defending Egyptian state agencies against a US$1.5 billion investor claim after being retained on the eve of the final week-long oral hearing.

Who do you consider your mentor?

James Crawford.

Who else in the field do you admire?

I enjoy working with Jan Paulsson.

What other career might you have chosen?

Academia.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

Keep at it, believe in your ability, and do not despair - that lucky break will come your way, possibly when you least expect it.

Do you sit as an arbitrator? When did you start?

Yes, at 35.

What are the biggest challenges facing arbitration?

The lack of uniform procedural rules and of a code of conduct for counsel.

If you could change one thing about the system...?

I would phase out parties’ unmediated choice of wing arbitrators and migrate towards a system of institutional choice based on some variant of the list method.

What’s been your most memorable moment in a hearing?

Asking a shifty witness who was testifying by video conference why he kept glancing to his right before answering every question. Only after the technician had taken the initiative of zooming out, the witness confirmed that Mr X was also in attendance - which was difficult to reconcile with his earlier evidence that Mr X (whom we had asked to cross-examine) was gravely ill and could not attend. The tribunal chair quipped to Mr X, “We’re very happy to see that our sincere wishes of this morning for your speedy recovery have been so promptly answered!”

What’s your favourite city to arbitrate in?

Paris, because it combines to an unusual degree all that is productive and agreeable about the practice of international arbitration - from reliable courts to dependable chefs and everything in between!

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Yam’tcha, rue de Sauval, Paris. When East meets West, all culinary bets are off!

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