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Article 05 Feb. 2020
“OPPORTUNITY IS A COMBINATION OF CHANCE AND CHOICE”. INTERVIEW WITH PETER М. WOLRICH, PARTNER OF CURTIS, MALLET-PREVOST, COLT & MOSLE LLP, PARIS
By Dmitry Artyukhov, Arbitration.ru Editor-in-chief
Below is an excerpt from the interview with Arbitration.ru. Please refer to the attachment for the complete interview.
Peter M. Wolrich is one of the leading arbitration lawyers in the world. Born in the U.S., he represented numerous European and Asian countries in complex and lengthy investor-states arbitration proceedings. Peter works in Paris, but occasionally visits Russia as well and took part in American Bar Association conference held in Moscow this September. We talk with Peter about his legal career, the Central Asia, complex cases and his philosophy that has driven him through over 40 years of his work in arbitration.
This year you came to Moscow for the ABA conference hosted together with RAA and spoke on a panel on bifurcation in international arbitration. Why did you choose this particular topic?
Bifurcation is an important and multi-faceted issue that needs to be considered when setting up a time and cost efficient arbitral procedure. However, it is a topic that is rarely dealt with in arbitration conferences. I thought it was time to bring it to the fore, and the Moscow ABA/RАA Conference was an excellent venue in which to do so.
In your long career in arbitration, what particular challenges of bifurcation have you come across as a counsel or arbitrator?
Bifurcation, of course, occurs when certain issues are broken out for early determination by the arbitral tribunal in a partial award. Some issues such as jurisdiction, capacity, arbitrability or the application of the statute of limitations could dispose of the entire arbitration. Other issues such as the applicable law, the meaning of a contractual provision or the determination of a key fact in dispute may narrow or simplify the remaining issues to be decided or may encourage settlement. As an example, in one arbitration in which I was sitting as an arbitrator there was an issue as to whether the law of country X or the law of country Y was applicable to the dispute. We considered that it would be inefficient to require the parties to plead their case alternatively under two different legal systems. In addition, the laws of country X allowed for consequential damages and the laws of country Y did not. One of Claimant’s largest claims was for consequential damages. As a result, the tribunal, at the request of Claimant, decided to bifurcate the applicable law issue and decide it upfront in a partial award.
Commercial Disputes - Arbitration
Peter M. Wolrich
+33 1 42 68 72 00