Robin Oldenstam
  • PositionPartner
  • FirmMannheimer Swartling
  • Age-
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Robin Oldenstam

Robin Oldenstam

  • Position: Partner
  • FirmMannheimer Swartling
  • Age: -

Mannheimer Swartling, Stockholm

Why international arbitration?

It provides for the most interesting work – complex, high-value and varied - and allows you to test your abilities against professionals from many different cultures.

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

One of the highlights this last year was a successful cross-examination, which was reflected in the tribunal’s award. Overall, I find the main hearings provide the most intense highs (and occasional lows) of my work.

Who do you consider your mentor?

Claes Lundblad, a former partner of our firm with whom I worked when I first joined Mannheimer Swartling. His professional attitude has been a huge inspiration to me.

Is there anyone else in the field that you especially admire?

Jan Paulsson and Johnny Veeder, as they not only do great work as counsel and arbitrators but take an active part in the debate and contribute to the continued development of the field. As to opposing counsel, I have particularly enjoyed doing battle with Stephen Jagusch. He will fight you tooth and nail before the tribunal, but outside he is very relaxed and sociable, showing true sportsmanship.

What other career might you have chosen?

Litigation. Although it doesn’t bring all of the rewards of international arbitration, the courtroom offers similar challenges and intensity.

What advice would you give someone just starting out?

To watch closely and learn from others, adopting effective behaviour and discarding ineffective behaviour.

Do you sit as an arbitrator?

I do so regularly, although it remains a relatively small part of my practice. I got my first appointment as a party-appointed arbitrator at the age of 34, having acted as opposing counsel (in an unrelated matter) to the lawyer who subsequently appointed me.

What are the biggest challenges facing arbitration?

Not to allow itself to become over-regulated. There is an increasing tendency for arbitral rules to become more and more detailed, coupled with a plethora of guidelines being issued by professional bodies such as the IBA and CIArb. Although this may be helpful in many instances, as a whole it inevitably increases complexity and decreases efficiency and flexibility. This in turn increases the time and cost of arbitrations.

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

I do not believe that the custom of having written witness statements standing completely in lieu of examinations-in-chief is altogether good. Although it may be efficient, it significantly decreases the evidentiary value of the testimony as the impression left by the witness will be based solely on answers given to hostile questioning on a few limited subjects during cross-examination. I believe that the process would gain considerably from allowing a witness to initially answer at least a few questions on key issues covered by his or her witness statement by way of a (friendly) examination-in-chief.

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

I remember having an arbitration many years ago with one of the great names sitting as chair. On day four of the main hearing, opposing counsel had been cross-examining an expert for hours on end, going over the same subject again and again without really getting anywhere. Suddenly, almost as if talking to himself, the chairman quietly said, “Say, have you ever heard the expression, ‘when in a hole, stop digging’?” It brought an immediate end to the cross-examination and forever taught me to keep such exercises short and focused.

What’s your favourite city to arbitrate in?

Paris as it not only offers every logistical comfort and a very arbitration-friendly environment but is also one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

What’s your favourite restaurant?

Zink Grill in Stockholm. It’s a small, bistro-like restaurant in the heart of the city, which offers great food and drink in a welcoming environment.

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