Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, Dubai
Why international arbitration?
Initially it was due to a mixture of intellectual curiosity and the opportunity to live in Paris.
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
The first time that I was first chair (lead counsel) in a hearing. Not having a more experienced colleague sitting next to me was both liberating and sobering. As for enjoyable cases, there have been many. The most enjoyable probably remains our representation of France Telecom in contractual and BIT arbitrations against Lebanon which resulted in a $350 million award for our client.
Who do you consider your mentor?
Lucy Reed, Eric Schwartz and Peter Turner.
What other career might you have chosen?
Hotel management. I spent several summers as a student working in hotels and was tempted to follow that path. The irony is that a career in arbitration still means I spend a lot of time in hotels.
What advice would you give someone just starting out?
Don’t ignore your home jurisdiction! Practising in international arbitration means being able to argue cases under different substantive laws and a variety of procedural rules. But it is important to be grounded in at least one jurisdiction which then becomes your frame of reference.
Do you sit as an arbitrator?
I do, although I don’t take more than three appointments at any time. Even the smallest of cases are time-consuming if done right and my day job is to represent clients as counsel. My first appointment was at the age of 35 by an institution.
What are the biggest challenges facing arbitration?
There are many. Two important ones are: over-busy arbitrators who continue to take on cases; and the rise of unmeritorious arbitrator challenges.
If you could change one thing about the system...?
Ban unduly lengthy submissions. They are unhelpful, slow the process down and make it more costly.
What’s your favourite city to arbitrate in?
Geneva in the Spring. A stroll along the lake is always a welcome distraction.