Ambassador of the United States Gave a Lecture on International Arbitration

​The United States Ambassador to Finland Charles C. Adams, Jr. gave a lecture on international arbitration at the University of Turku. International arbitration refers to legal proceedings where disputes between companies are resolved with arbitrators who work outside national courts.

International arbitration is used when the parties in the dispute do not trust the impartiality of the decisions made in the courts of foreign countries. As a former lawyer, Ambassador Adams has been an arbitrator in cases related to construction engineering, bilateral trade agreements and intellectual property.

– Around 90 percent of dispute resolution mechanisms in major international commercial contracts call for international arbitration, estimates Adams.

Ambassador Discussed Notions Connected to Arbitration

Arbitration has a reputation as a quick and cheap way to solve disputes. According to Adams, this notion does not completely correspond to reality.

– International arbitration involves large cases with hundreds or thousands of documents to be analysed, complex issues of transnational law to be reviewed, and team of ten or fifteen lawyers to do this over a certain period of time.  A typical international arbitration case costs no less than a million dollars.

During the lecture, Adams discussed the often unjust notions connected to arbitration. One of them is the finality of the decisions. Unlike in national courts, the decisions made by arbitrators have no right of appeal. The Ambassador considered this to be a positive factor in the dealings between companies.

– This troubles me less, because there needs to be finality.  If the resolve is so arbitrary as to be offensive to the sense of justice, the arbitrators are highly unlikely to ever be appointed again.

The audience doubted the procedure where arbitration is carried out behind closed doors. However, Adams pointed out that the cases are eventually public. When the judgement proceeds to enforcement, the proceedings are opened for public review.

Many Finnish Experts among International Arbitrators

The Ambassador reminded the audience about career opportunities in international arbitration. He pointed out that, in addition to lawyers, an increasing number of engineers and professors participate in arbitration. In turn, the extensive expertise among arbitrators helps to alleviate the negative notions associated with the system.

– We need younger and more diverse international arbitrators. We need to expand the international arbitration bar beyond the small number of law firms which are presently most intensely involved in this particular sector of the legal industry.
According to Adams, Finland is overrepresented among international arbitrators in proportion to its population. He believes it is a result of good language skills and expertise in law.

The Ambassador was appointed to his post in August. He visited the University of Turku already in September to learn about the North American research conducted at the University.

>> United States Ambassador Visited the University of Turku 

Text: Ilkka Hemmilä
Photo: Hanna Oksanen
Translation: Mari Ratia

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Published date 12/3/2015 10:25 AM ,  Modified date 12/3/2015 10:31 AM

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