Marek Jeżewski on contemporary Polish and European arbitration
Arbitration requires specialisation, and immersion in the subject matter of a dispute, so the fundamental characteristic of the relationship between an arbitrator and the parties is trust, says Marek Jeżewski, who was a guest of Konrad Czech and the Bulletin Vlog podcast of the Court of Arbitration at the Polish Chamber of Commerce in Warsaw. What did they discuss?
A for arbitration and T for trust
They discussed, among other things, that client trust comes not only from an arbitrator’s various soft skills, but also from their knowledge and understanding of the issues in dispute.
For this reason, Marek emphasised that from the beginning of his career he believed in the potential and importance of arbitration, although at the same time he was well aware that it was a bit of a myth to talk about its consensual nature. On the other hand, as he admits today, practice shows that it is precisely this method that is less antagonistic to the parties involved and makes it possible, at least from a procedural point of view, to reach compromises via dialogue.
Marek is a highly experienced practitioner, being, among other things, the author of the only Polish monograph on investment law and the Polish Ambassador to the Vienna International Arbitral Centre (VIAC). He is also a keen observer of the legal market and knows the issues, pains and challenges for arbitration in Poland and the CEE region.
When asked about this broader perspective, he said that in international arbitration, where headquarters are outside the CEE region, it is difficult for Polish practitioners, or even those from our region, to break through and compete with practitioners who have been in the market for many years in London, New York or Washington.
However, a certain democratisation is also taking place in this area, and the best evidence of this is the very idea of VIAC ambassadors, which is a platform for organising practitioners and strengthening their position both as arbitrators and as attorneys.
Arbitrator or attorney? Or perhaps both?
When asked which role he sees himself in today and in the near future, Marek replied that one should not exist without the other, and that each has its own drawbacks, limitations, opportunities and advantages. However, the experience of being both an arbitrator and an attorney allows one to empathise with the dynamics of the arbitral process, to understand the frustrations of other participants, to gauge expectations and to speak the same language. In Marek’s case, these two roles certainly overlap.
Arbitration remains a way to resolve disputes quickly
Marek Jeżewski has been involved in investment arbitration for many years, both as a practitioner and as an academic. He stressed that for him, arbitration is a mechanism for foreign investors to seek redress against abuses of power in the state in which they invest. Some legal tools are necessary for this, in one form or another. They are a sine qua non of the concept of a democratic state of law.
But even in a pragmatic assessment of today’s reality, he is under no illusion that investment arbitration in the sense of protecting European investors within the EU has disappeared. And he stresses that he would not advise a client to commence such a process without first making clear that investment arbitration in intra-EU disputes is viewed with hostility by both the European Commission and the individual Member States. This is not to say, of course, that there are no legal tools and methods to ensure the effectiveness of such a process.
Listen to the full interview here.
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