Advocacy in International Commercial Arbitration: ASA Special Series No. 36 - Advocacy in International Commercial Arbitration: What For?
Elliott Geisinger is a Partner in the International Arbitration Group of Schellenberg Wittmer in Geneva. Since 1994, his practice has focused on international arbitration. He has acted as counsel and arbitrator in complex commercial disputes involving international construction contracts, consortia and joint venture agreements, sponsorship contracts, sales and distribution contracts, and consultancy contracts while also advising clients in investment matters.
In addition, Mr. Geisinger has regularly represented clients in arbitration-related court proceedings, and several of his cases have been reported on in the official collection of Swiss Supreme Court cases and in arbitration journals. Contract management in large- scale construction projects is a further specialization of his. He has also advised Swiss corporations in investment disputes.
After graduating from the School of Law of the University of Geneva in 1986, where he also obtained a Master of Laws in 1990, Mr. Geisinger served as a teaching and research assistant in private international law at the university from 1986 to 1992. He was a trainee and then an Associate with Baker & McKenzie in Geneva before joining Schellenberg Wittmer in 1996 and becoming a Partner in 2002. He sat on the Arbitration Committee of the Geneva Chamber of Commerce and Industry from 1999 to 2003 and was elected to the executive board of the Swiss Arbitration Association in 2007, becoming Vice-President in 2010. He has authored and co-authored several publications in the fields of international arbitration and private international law.
The question set out in the title of this contribution may appear provocative or nonsensical (or both). It was inspired by the famous case Board of Inland Revenue v. Haddock, "reported" in A. P. Herbert's "Uncommon Law",2 the sub-title of which is "Why is the House of Lords?"--an unusual query, no doubt, but not an unreasonable one upon closer examination.3
Coming back to the topic of this article: Why indeed enquire as to the purpose of advocacy in international commercial arbitration when the answer appears to be obvious? The response is simple: the answer is not so obvious. Indeed, observation and experience show that the term "advocacy" can mean very different things depending on the standpoint one takes. Thus, it does not (or not necessarily) have the same meaning for clients, counsel and arbitrators. To add another layer of variables, "advocacy" can be understood very differently depending on whether one is East or West of Suez, North or South of the Equator or on this or that shore of the Atlantic.