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International arbitration has plenty of dramatic moments, strewn across the arbitration life cycle. They can surface quite early, as in the context of petitions for interim relief, document production, challenges to the arbitrator or various dispositive motions. They are less likely to occur at the post-award stage (i.e. annulment or opposition to the recognition or enforcement of awards), due in part to the fact that that stage typically plays out in the sober atmosphere of a national court. But more often than not, the drama associated with international arbitration takes place in and around the arbitral hearing room.

In my experience, the protagonists most prone to hearing room drama are counsel. For many (maybe even most) counsel, advocacy is theatre, and theatre without drama may well lack effect, not that sobriety cannot itself be an effective recipe. Arbitration lawyers often tell their clients' stories dramatically and seek equally dramatically to disparage the stories that their adversaries seek to tell. They voice their procedural objections with passion. Some of the best moments occur when counsel joust directly with one another, feigning outrage at their opponent's conduct (conduct in which they themselves may in fact routinely engage.)


Dispute Resolution and Arbitration | International Law | Law


Reprinted from "Stories from the Hearing Room: Experience from Arbitral Practice (Essays in Honour of Michael E. Schneider)," 2015, pp. 17-22, with permission of Kluwer Law International: