Quite some time ago, National Geographic Magazine published a story called “Global Culture”, which explored the interaction of people and ideas from different places.1 The lead photo, intended to show the meeting point of starkly different styles, featured a mother and a daughter in India. The mother wore a traditional red and gold sari, while her daughter sported a skin-tight polyvinyl black catsuit.
Making an analogy, international commercial arbitration is also said to provide “a meeting point for different legal cultures.”2 However, observations on this analogy differ from each other. While one says that different cultures often meet in a way similar to a combination of the top half of the sari and the bottom of the catsuit,3 meaning that as lawyers from different countries find themselves on the opposite sides of the same case, different cultures tend to compete against each other, and practitioners who belong to one legal culture often behave differently from, and have different expectations than the practitioner of another legal culture. By contrast, others would say that there is no need to mix the clothes up, which means that the cultural differences have no role to play in the context of international arbitration.