How We Started and a Brief Note on Arbitrability - Chapter 7 - Reflections on International Arbitration
This is the story about how George and I got introduced to international arbitration. The year, I believe, was 1974. I was a third-year associate at Baker & McKenzie in New York, and George was an Assistant Professor at Columbia where I had graduated two years earlier. A Professor of Law, Henry de Vries, taught comparative law at Columbia and was also a partner in the firm. Although I never took Henry’s course, he took me under his wing, and I assisted on many of his cases.
One afternoon Henry called me into his office and handed me a file. A client of the firm—a telecom company in California that manufactured telephone systems—had tried to terminate its Argentinian distributor. The distributor refused the termination and, if recollection serves, had obtained an order from an Argentinian court preventing the termination from becoming effective, and, in accordance with an arbitration clause in the distributorship contract had commenced an arbitration before the ICC in Paris against our client. The arbitration sought a declaration that the termination was ineffective, as well as money damages.
I had heard of the ICC, but had never litigated an ICC arbitration, nor, indeed, any arbitration at all. I read the rules and drafted an Answer and Counterclaim seeking a declaration that the termination was effective. The counterclaim also sought damages for the loss of business caused by our client’s inability to appoint another distributor to sell its phone systems.
The claimant appointed an Argentinian law professor as its party-appointed arbitrator. The ICC rules required us to name our party-appointed arbitrator in our Answer.