January 29, 2010
Professor William W. Park named President, London Court of International Arbitration
When business disputes arise among companies from different countries, or between a foreign investor and the host country where it has assets, each side may have concerns about the political and procedural neutrality of the forum in which the case will be heard. That’s where arbitration comes in.
As the new president of the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA), BU Law Professor William W. Park aims to make arbitration available as an alternative to national court systems. "Without such an option, many welfare-enhancing projects will be either abandoned or concluded at higher costs due to the absence of any fair process for promoting vindication of rights and fidelity to the parties' shared ex ante expectations," he said.
The LCIA process has been used in a wide range of conflicts. Because most international arbitrations cases are private, Park avoided being too specific about LCIA cases. However, examples include an expropriation claim by a Canadian investor against a Latin American country; a dispute over a joint venture for automobile manufacturing between German and American companies; and claims arising under an insurance policy issued by a consortium of European insurers providing third-party liability coverage to an American manufacturer.
Arbitration is now a widely used method of binding dispute resolution in international commercial contracts. It is a private process requiring the agreement of the parties, and it provides freedom to choose applicable law, venue, language, and procedures as well as the arbitrators themselves. Such flexibility promotes predictable and efficient resolution of cross-border economic disputes.
"The health of international economic cooperation depends on the availability of a relatively level playing field for dispute resolution, which often supplies an adjudicatory alternative more neutral than the national courts of either litigant," said Park.
As LCIA president, Park will appoint arbitral tribunals and hear motions about challenge to arbitrators. He will also represent the LCIA at conferences around the world, and participate in policy decisions on amicus briefs filed in critical litigation affecting arbitration. Just like any other foreign-policy leader, Park understands the delicacy of trying to resolve problems on behalf of business leaders around the world. His goal is to expand the LCIA in building confidence in the reliability of cross-border transactions.
As the LCIA's first American president, Park understands the difficulty of finding the right balance between national and international procedures. In a chapter from his recent book Arbitration of International Business Disputes, Studies in Law and Practice, Park acknowledged complaints about the “Americanization” of arbitration, usually tied to aggressive litigation tactics that include “hefty boxes of unmanageable exhibits, costly pre-trial discovery, and disruptive objections to evidence.” On the other hand, he noted that American arbitration has also been influenced by international practices. For example, Park sees an increased use of written testimony and reasoned awards in U.S. arbitral proceedings.
Park joined the LCIA in 1992 at the behest of the late Sir Michael Kerr, a celebrated English judge and former president of the LCIA. Park eventually became a vice president. As general editor of the London-based journal Arbitration International, Park grew more involved with London arbitration. In that capacity, he worked closely in editing articles written by LCIA court members, and he assisted in an LCIA-sponsored study of arbitrator challenges related to conflicts of interest.
Park has served as an arbitrator for many international counsels. In 2008, President George W. Bush appointed him to the Roster of Arbitrators for the World Bank affiliate ICSID, International Center for Settlement of Investment Disputes. Former Federal Reserve Board Chairman Paul Volker appointed him as arbitrator on the Claims Resolution Tribunal for Dormant Accounts in Switzerland (the so-called “Holocaust Bank Accounts” tribunal) and former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger appointed him to the Appeals Tribunal of the International Commission on Holocaust Era Insurance Claims. Park currently sits on the NAFTA Chapter 14 Financial Services Roster.
>>Read Professor Park's full bio
Reported by Christine Lindberg