Martin Valasek is a leading practitioner in the area of international arbitration, with extensive experience in both investor-state and commercial contract disputes. He regularly acts as counsel, and also sits as an arbitrator.
His experience covers a wide range of legal systems and industries, including aerospace, banking, construction, mining, energy, environmental remediation, pharmaceuticals and manufacturing. He has provided winning guidance to clients, in both transactions and disputes, under all of the leading rules, including the ICC, LCIA, ICSID and UNCITRAL Rules, and other institutional and ad hoc regimes. He has acted as arbitrator, and as tribunal secretary, in several important arbitrations, including the multibillion dollar Yukos-Energy Charter Treaty arbitration. Mr. Valasek is a frequent speaker, lecturer and contributor to various publications in his areas of practice.
Mr. Valasek joined our Montréal office in 2003, having started his career in arbitration and litigation in New York City. Prior to that, he clerked for Mr. Justice Gonthier of the Supreme Court of Canada, and was editor‑in‑chief of the McGill Law Journal.
Mr. Valasek is fluent in English, French and Czech, and has a working knowledge of Spanish.
LL.B./B.C.L., McGill University, 1998
A.B., Harvard College, 1991
Mr. Valasek has acted for the following clients:
- As lead partner in Montreal of a multi-office team representing a manufacturer in the successful settlement of a dispute concerning a technology licensing agreement that was originally submitted to arbitration under the ICC rules. The dispute was governed by New York law, and also involved issues of US federal and European antitrust law.
- As co-counsel to AbitibiBowater Inc. in its NAFTA claim against the Government of Canada arising from the expropriation of its rights and assets in Newfoundland and Labrador by provincial legislation, resulting in a settlement for compensation of $130 million (UNCITRAL arbitration)
- A Canadian company in the defence of a claim by a Mauritian company arising out of the termination of a $20 million contract for the sale of a jet, resulting in an award that dismissed the claim with prejudice and with costs (LCIA arbitration in London)
- A Canadian company in connection with an investment dispute with the Republic of Kazakhstan, seeking compensation under Kazakhstan’s foreign investment law for breach of various agreements (UNCITRAL arbitration in Stockholm)
- A Canadian pharmaceutical company in a dispute under a licensing agreement with a distributor in the US (ad hoc “baseball” arbitration under New York law)
- A Canadian multinational telecommunications firm in connection with a mechanism to resolve disputes arising in the allocation of funds as between competing bankruptcy estates
- A Canadian multinational engineering firm in connection with several matters, including an ICC arbitration and a dispute with an African state (negotiations, and possible related ICSID proceedings)
- As co-counsel to a Canadian company in a dispute with the government of a Caribbean country arising out of the implementation of an environmental remediation contract (ad hoc arbitration in Barbados)
- A Canadian company in a dispute with the government of a European country arising from an offset contract (ICC arbitration in Paris)
- As co-counsel to Cypriot companies in connection with an investment dispute with the Republic of Hungary, resulting in an award of US$84 million in compensation to the investors for an unlawful expropriation (ICSID arbitration in Washington and London)
- New York State Bar 2000
- Ontario 2000
- Quebec 2005
Rankings and recognitions
- Best Lawyers in Canada, 2013-2017: International Arbitration
- Chambers Global, Canada: Dispute Resolution - Arbitration (Band 1), Chambers and Partners, 2018
- Chambers Canada, Nationwide: Dispute Resolution - Arbitration (Band 1), Chambers and Partners, 2018
- Canadian Legal Lexpert Directory, 2012-2017: recommended in International Commercial Arbitration
- Who’s Who Legal, Canada 2014-2015: Arbitration
- Lexpert®/American Lawyer Guide to the Leading 500 Lawyers in Canada, 2013: most frequently recommended in the area of Arbitration
- The International Who’s Who of Arbitration Lawyers, 2012-2013
- Global Arbitration Review’s “45 under 45” (recognized as a leading figure of the international arbitration bar under age 45 by the leading global publication and news service in this field)
- PLC Which Lawyer? 2011-2012: Dispute resolution: international arbitration
- The International Who’s Who Legal, 2011: Arbitration (described as “very experienced”)
- Guide to the World’s Leading Experts in Commercial Arbitration, June 2011
- Who’s Who Legal, Canada, 2010-2011 (“impressed those he has worked with -- ‘he is assertive, precise and has an excellent understanding of international arbitration rules’ -- and he has extensive experience of arbitrations conducted under the ICC, LCIA, ICSID and UNCITRAL rules, as well as ad hoc proceedings”)
- The International Who’s Who of Commercial Arbitration Lawyers, 2011
- Global Arbitration Review (GAR100), 2011: International Arbitration
- Guide to the World’s Leading Experts in Commercial Arbitration, 2009
- Lexpert’s “Top 40 Lawyers Under 40” Lawyers in Canada, 2007
- "Controlling Costs in International Arbitration," Quebec Bar Association, Montreal, April 29, 2016.
- Foundation for International Arbitration Advocacy’s Expert Witness Workshop (Faculty member), George Washington University Law School, Washington, DC, June 11‑13, 2015.
- “Important Factors Impacting Choice of Law and Choice of Venue,” Ontario Bar Association, Toronto, May 21, 2015.
- “The Interrelationship between Investment Arbitration, Indigenous Rights, and Environment Law” (panel chair), Centre for International Sustainable Development Law, McGill University, March 25, 2014.
- “Third-Party Funding in International Arbitration,” Canadian College of Construction Lawyers' 13th Annual Conference, Halifax, May 28, 2010.
- “NAFTA arbitration: Metalclad, Loewen and Methanex,” Penn State-McGill Program on International Arbitration and Commercial Litigation, Montreal, May 20, 2010.
- “Développements récents en droit international privé,” (co-panelist: Azim Hussain), Canadian Bar Association, Montreal, February 16, 2010.
- “Introduction to ICC Arbitration: the Hearing,” presentation to delegation from Vietnam, McGill University Faculty of Law, December 2, 2009.
- “International Investment Treaty Arbitration: A Comparative View of the Practice,” 39th Annual Workshop on Commercial and Consumer Law, University of Montreal, October 16, 2009.
- “International Human Rights Law and its Impact on International Investment Arbitration: Are Human Rights Obligations Eroding the Promotion of Standards for the Protection of International Investment?” Arbitration in Latin America, DR‑CAFTA, FTAs, BITs, and Commercial Arbitration Involving States, IBA/ICC Conference, San José, Costa Rica, August 25, 2009.
Memberships and activities
- Canadian Bar Association
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce (Panel of International Commercial Arbitrators)
- International Bar Association
- IBA Working Group on Investment Arbitration (2014)
- Arbitration Guidelines and Rules Subcommittee
- Young Canadian Arbitration Practitioners
- Director (since September 2007)
- President (2007-2010)
- Young International Arbitration Group, LCIA
- Regional representative for North America (Canada) (2006-2009)
- Young Arbitrators’ Forum of the International Chamber of Commerce
- Canadian representative (since 2008)
- Rotating chair, student tribunals, Concordia University
- Pro Bono Students Canada McGill (supervising various pro bono projects)
- Chair, Centraide (United Way) Leaders' Campaign at Norton Rose Fulbright Canada (since 2008)
- President, jury for selection of Centraide (United Way) awards (Solidaires 2009)
- Bach-Académie de Montréal (Montreal Bach Festival)
- Andover Canadian Fund Inc.
- Advisory Board, McGill International Journal of Sustainable Development Law and Policy
In Colombia, a series of significant claims against the State for an alleged breach of its obligations under free trade agreements or investment protection agreements has shown that arbitration is one of the most important tools at the disposal of independent investors .
SeminarMay 5, 2-16
Have enforcement mechanisms kept pace with many of the arbitral institutional rule amendments to make arbitration more responsive to users’ needs? .
May 01, 2018
A recent Supreme Court of Canada decision confirms the limited scope for appeals of an arbitrator’s decision pursuant to British Columbia’s Arbitration Act..
August 08, 2014
Martin Valasek comments on how the EU trade deal with Canada, known as CETA, could lead to the generalization of the use of arbitration..
November 17, 2016
Martin Valasek writes in Canadian Mining Journal on why Canada ratifying the Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes between States and Nationals..
August 12, 2014