International arbitration newsletter

Publication | September 2010


In this longer than usual issue we look at a new English case, Jivraj v Hashwani [2010] EWCA 712, which may be of great significance for English and European arbitration law since it holds that for the purposes of discrimination legislation an arbitrator is in “employment”. It raises the possibility – which we hope the courts will redress at the earliest opportunity – that arbitration clauses are void if they require arbitrators to come (or not to come) from certain countries, have a particular religion or a certain number of years’ experience.

We turn to Greece this issue for a view of the arbitration market there from Marie Kelly and Dimitri Anassis. Meanwhile on the back page, Marie Kelly, Head of Dispute Resolution in our Athens office gives us an insight into her world. Sam Eastwood and Svatava Sprague focus on the Legal and Regulatory Environment Atlas 2010, a practical tool for businesses in corporate risk management which has been produced by Maplecroft in association with . Finally Amanda Greenwood and Amy Armitage look at CEDR ’s Mediation Audit 2010.

Joseph Tirado

Head of international arbitration and ADR

Legal update

EC publishes draft regulation on bilateral investment treaties (BITs)

When it came into force last December, the Lisbon Treaty conferred on the EU  exclusive competence in relation to foreign direct investment.

Its impact on BITs  has been unclear. The European Commission has now published a proposed draft regulation (COM(2010)344 final) and an accompanying Commission Communication (COM(2010)343 final).

The Commission intends to explore the possibility of the EU acceding to the ICSID  Convention, a process that would require amendment of the Convention itself. The draft regulation provides a framework for the negotiation of new investment treaties with third countries and amendments to existing treaties. It also sets out the conditions under which member states may be authorised to maintain or enter investment treaties with third countries. The regulation requires a member state to inform the Commission of any request for dispute settlement under the BIT, and entitles the Commission to participate in the dispute resolution procedure. Before any dispute settlement mechanism can be activated under a BIT, member states must seek the agreement of the Commission.

New rules for the SIAC

The Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC) has issued a 4th edition of its rules with effect from 1 July 2010.

Changes foreshadow similar changes that are expected to be made to the UNCITRAL and ICC arbitration rules. Key innovations include providing a formal mechanism for expedited arbitration in simple or small value cases (award within six months), joinder to an existing arbitration of additional parties to an arbitration agreement, and provision for parties to apply to remove an arbitrator in delay. Particular attention has been paid to problems that arise prior to the constitution of the tribunal. The 2010 rules provide that prior to the tribunal constitution, the SIAC is empowered to decide jurisdiction questions, and an emergency arbitrator may be appointed to decide urgent applications for interim relief.

The new rules focus very much on international rather than domestic arbitrations, and strengthen its position as a leading Asian arbitral institution.

Discrimination law applied to arbitrators

A recent English Court of Appeal decision, Jivraj v Hashwani [2010] EWCA 712 raises the possibility – which we hope the courts will dismiss at the earliest opportunity – that arbitration clauses are void if they require arbitrators to come (or not to come) from certain countries, belong to a certain religion or have a certain number of years’ experience.

The dispute

Members of the Ismaili community entered into an agreement which provided that any dispute was to be resolved in England by three arbitrators, with all arbitrators to be respected members of the Ismaili community.

Following a dispute, the respondent appointed Sir Anthony Colman as his arbitrator and served notice on the applicant to appoint his own arbitrator. The applicant objected that the appointment of Sir Anthony was invalid because he did not satisfy the requirement of being a member of the Ismaili community. The respondent asserted that the requirement contravened the Employment Equality (Religion or Belief) Regulations 2003 (implementing European Directive 2000/78/EC), which prohibits discrimination on religious grounds against people in employment.

The High Court held that the arbitrator was not in “employment” and accordingly the regulations did not apply, with the consequence that the appointment was void. When that decision was appealed, the Court of Appeal agreed that Sir Anthony could not be appointed, but for different reasons entirely. It concluded that the requirement for arbitrators to be members of the Ismali community was unenforceable in English law, rendering the arbitration agreement itself void.

The conclusion of the appeal

The Employment Equality (Religion and Belief) Regulations 2003 prohibit an employer from discriminating on grounds of religion in relation to employment at an establishment in Great Britain. The Court of Appeal held that arbitration does fall within the definition of “employment” By requiring that arbitrators should be of a certain religion, the arbitration clause was void.

It was impossible to sever the unlawful requirement from the remainder of the clause; the composition of an arbitral tribunal is often critical in obtaining the agreement of one or both parties to arbitration. It was an integral part of the arbitration clause and the clause stood or fell as a whole.

What would otherwise be discrimination can be justified when it is a “genuine occupational requirement” regarding the nature of employment, as long as it is proportionate to apply the requirement. The Court of Appeal considered that this exemption did not apply in this case. The arbitrators were simply under an obligation to apply English law to the dispute. By contrast, had the arbitration clause called for the application of religious principles, a case for a genuine occupational requirement might have been established.

“It was an integral part of the arbitration clause and the clause stood or fell as a whole”

Implications for existing law

Existing English discrimination law, which will be replaced by the Equality Act 2010 (the Act), prohibits discrimination on grounds including sex, race (including nationality), religion and age. In each case, the law applies to those in “employment” and provides an exception for discrimination that is based on genuine occupational requirements. The Court of Appeal indicated that arbitration is employment for all of these purposes, so an arbitration clause may be capable of challenge if, as is commonly the case, it requires the arbitrator:

(a) To have a specified number of years of experience or to have reached a particular level in a trade or profession, or to be retired from a professional position (eg, a retired judge).

(b) To belong to an organisation or to possess a qualification which is open only or primarily by men, or simply to be male.

(c) To hold the beliefs of a specified religion.

(d) To be of a specified nationality, generally other than that of the parties.

The genuine occupational requirement test may be satisfied relatively easily in case (a), and probably in case (b). But in each situation this would be subject to the important qualification that the specific characteristics are required when the arbitration agreement is made or when a dispute actually arises (a fresh agreement comes into being when a dispute is submitted to arbitration). An arbitration clause might never validly contain any of the restrictions in (a) and (b), because the question of whether there is a genuine occupational requirement for a dispute to be resolved can only fall to be considered when that dispute arises.

It is difficult to see when nationality could ever be a genuine occupational requirement. The justification for nationality provisions found in some arbitral institutions’ rules is that they ensure the independence and impartiality of arbitrators. However, under the Arbitration Act 1996, arbitrators are required to be impartial (as distinct from independent), so insisting upon a particular nationality is redundant.

“It is difficult to see when nationality could ever be a genuine occupational requirement”

Equality Act 2010

Under the Act, employment is defined as meaning “employment under … a contract personally to do work …” Given the approach in Jivraj, this appears to catch arbitrators. Its provisions about “occupational requirements” seem to replicate the position under the existing discrimination legislation. Any term which is discriminatory is void to that extent. In the light of the ruling in Jivraj, it would seem that the entire arbitration clause becomes void unless the discriminatory appointment is based on occupational requirements.

Institutional rules

A further issue is whether arbitral institutions’ rules are within the Act, which applies to any “Qualifications Body”, “Employment Service-Provider” and “Trade Association”.

If an arbitral institution falls within any of these definitions, problems arise where an arbitral institution has discriminatory membership rules or where an arbitral institution is called upon to appoint an arbitrator using discriminatory criteria. The rules are void to the extent that they are discriminatory, although some form of severance would probably be possible to save the rest of the rules. In addition, any appointment made by reference to discriminatory criteria would contravene the legislation unless there was a genuine occupational reason for that particular qualification. One exception may be if the discrimination is indirect, for instance where the appointee has to be a QC  and thereby versed in a particular system of law.

Territorial scope of the Act

Any arbitration agreement governed by English law irrespective of the place of performance would seem to fall within the Act, and it is also likely that any arbitration agreement to be performed in England (seat), irrespective of its applicable law, would fall within the Act. The substantive law to be applied to the dispute is irrelevant to the scope of the Act.

The Act derives from EU  law and so the implications of Jivraj may affect any country in Europe in which the EU legislation has been implemented unless those member states interpret the laws differently.


Any attempt to apply Jivraj to common arbitration clauses, to render them void and possibly to unwind past awards made under them, would run against the grain of decisions by the English courts. The Court of Appeal’s decision is surprising because of the trend in English law to support arbitration and because it appears to limit party autonomy. As we write, the parties in Jivraj have been attempting to apply for permission to appeal to the Supreme Court. But until this decision is considered by the Supreme Court or the European Court of Justice, there remains a small possibility that many standard arbitration clauses are void.

Professor Robert Merkin is a consultant and Research Professor of Commercial Law at Southampton University.

James Thomas is an associate based in the dispute resolution team in London.

Maritime arbitration in Greece

Maritime arbitrations in Greece are rare. Instead, London is without question the world’s central arbitral forum for shipping cases. With more than 1200 shipping companies established in Piraeus, employing more than 10,000 people, the Piraeus bar would like the number of arbitrations held in Greece to increase.

The global arbitration map today

There are a number of reasons for the dominance of London-based shipping arbitration. The pre-eminence of English law in shipping contracts and the industry’s preference for settling disputes by specialist arbitration (rather than going through the courts) means that English law arbitration in London has prospered. Of the 1280 maritime cases brought before London arbitration tribunals in 2008, most were settled prior to hearings taking place. Of the 421 which proceeded to Awards, only 42 were heard before a tribunal (the balance being decided on documents alone) which speaks volumes about the system’s efficiency. The ready availability in London of specialist arbitrators, lawyers and experts, coupled with its reputation for fairness and impartiality, makes London a popular choice.

“The ready availability of specialist arbitrators, lawyers and experts, and its reputation for fairness and impartiality makes London a popular choice”

Around 70 per cent of arbitration cases are heard in London, 20 per cent in New York and the remaining 10 per cent are heard elsewhere. By comparison, in 2008, only four maritime arbitrations took place in Greece. This is surprising, given the substantial presence the Greek market has in shipping.

Arbitration in Greece: the pitfalls

A thriving maritime arbitration centre in Greece would be convenient for the Greek shipping market and would certainly benefit the many local lawyers who practise shipping law. The Maritime Arbitration Rules of the Piraeus Association for Maritime Arbitration (Piraeus Arbitration Rules) were drawn up in 2007 to provide a structure for Greek maritime arbitration. So, why is there so little arbitration in Greece?

There is an absence of confidence among many Greek ship-owners in the Greek judicial system which would deal with applications for annulment of awards. This, combined with the lack of sufficient maritime arbitral experience and certain unreliable aspects of the Greek legal system explain the low demand for Greek-based arbitration.

More importantly, shipping is a conservative business. The various shipping interests are reluctant to depart from the familiar forum of London arbitration. Even if Greek ship-owners were to attempt to introduce a Greece-based arbitration jurisdiction clause, they would find it difficult to get charterers and shippers or other interests to agree to submit to the ship-owners’ native jurisdiction instead of a neutral forum (such as London).

Under the Pireus Arbitration Rules, arbitrations held in Greece can be subject to English law and be conducted in the English language, but this does entail the possibility of an appeal to the Greek courts. Instead, arbitrations can be held in Greece under LMAA (London Maritime Arbitrators Association) rules (with the agreement of both parties and the arbitrators), where recourse to the Greek courts does not come into question.

“Under the Piraeus Arbitration Rules, arbitrations can be subject to English law and be conducted in the English language”

Arbitration in London: the case against

There are some perceived problems with London arbitration which might be solved by arbitration in Greece under the Piraeus Arbitration Rules. In London, arbitration is generally on LMAA terms heard by the small group of arbitrators who are full members of the LMAA. The list of full members of the LMAA is short (there are only 35 full members) and new full members are rarely added. The average age of LMAA arbitrators is high and there are a number (about one third) of full LMAA arbitrators who are past the age of 70 when it would be mandatory for a high court judge to retire. The cost of LMAA arbitration is often as high as high court litigation, but in addition the cost of the arbitrators also has to be borne by the parties. Piraeus arbitration could respond to these complaints by having a wide list of arbitrators and more cost effective arbitration. This is its greatest selling point.

“The cost of LMAA arbitration is often as high as high court litigation, but in addition the cost of the arbitrators also has to be borne by the parties”

As far as enforceability is concerned, Greek law provides for the recognition and enforcement of New York Convention awards (subject to various Greek law restrictions and reservations). In addition, other foreign arbitral awards are enforceable in Greece (subject to what international treaties provide) without any further procedural steps to be taken, provided that certain conditions are met.

Support for Piraeus-based arbitration

The Piraeus Association for Maritime Arbitration (PAMA), with the assistance of the Hellenic Society of Maritime Lawyers (HSML), has in recent years taken significant steps to promote the value of Greece-based arbitrations and other strategic advantages that arise from it.

PAMA’s members include senior judges, academics, ship-owners, shipping lawyers, bankers and other important figures of the broader maritime sector. It’s primary goal is to develop maritime arbitration in Greece, and for such arbitration to be globally considered as a reliable dispute resolution procedure.

All proceedings taking place under the auspices of PAMA follow the Maritime Arbitration Regulations. The regulations have been compiled on the basis of the international arbitral standards set by UNCITRAL ’s Model Law for International Arbitration (as incorporated into Greek law by Law 2735/1999), as well as the LMAA and the American Arbitration Association’s (AAA) respective rules.

“(PAMA’s) primary goal is to develop maritime arbitration in Greece, and for such arbitration to be globally considered as a reliable dispute resolution procedure”

Mediation in Greece

Greek based mediation is also available. This is being promoted by an association of qualified CEDR (Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution) mediators EMMA (Eastern Mediterranean Mediation Association), most of whom are English lawyers. The organisation is in its infancy but has administered about 5 Greek based mediations.


Surprisingly, maritime arbitrations in Greece are uncommon. There is potential to hold arbitrations in Greece under the Piraeus Arbitration Rules in the English language and subject to English law. It could be a flexible and cost effective alternative to LMAA arbitration in London. However, the possibility of an appeal to the Greek Courts introduces uncertainty into the procedure and this may be a deterrent to some parties. Consequently, arbitration subject to the Piraeus Arbitration Rules is unlikely to be acceptable other than on the rare occasions where both sides in the dispute are Greek.

Marie Kelly is a partner and Dmitri Anassis is a paralegal in the litigation team based in Athens.

Mediation: a market report

Mediation’s contribution to business is continuing to grow steadily according to the fourth Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution (CEDR) Meditation Audit 2010 (the Audit) published earlier this year. The Audit suggests that the civil and commercial mediation market has doubled in size since 2007.

Although there are encouraging signs that the size of the group is slowly rising, the market continues to be dominated by a limited number of individuals. The Audit (of qualified mediators) also reveals for the first time the concern amongst mediators that Conditional Fee Agreements (CFAs) can act as a barrier to settlement.

The mediation market

The Audit estimates that the current size of the civil and commercial mediation market is in the region of 6000 mediations per year. This is compared to around 3550 mediations in 2007 and around 2600 in 2005. Much of this growth is attributable to court annexed mediation schemes as well as the increasing number of employment and workplace mediation schemes, which represent approximately 40 per cent of the total number of cases referred to mediation per annum.

Of the remaining 60 percent which are made up of “ad-hoc” referrals, the Audit reveals that 65 per cent are handled on a direct referral basis as opposed to through the use of service provider organisations. It is perhaps unsurprising that direct referrals were most prevalent in the case of the most experienced mediators who obtain more than half of their work via this route.

YearNumber of mediations (approx.)
2007 3550 
2010 6000 
Source: CEDR – The Fourth Mediation Audit – 11 May 2010 – page three

The mediators

The Audit confirms that the mediation market continues to be dominated by a small number of individuals. Notably, however, only 37 per cent of even the most experienced mediators felt able to characterise themselves as “full time”. This is a six per cent increase on the 2007 audit which suggests that the mediation market is maturing, albeit gradually.

The market is opening up to less experienced mediators. There has been a five per cent progression in the number of mediators who previously described themselves as having “intermediate” to now having “advanced” experience, suggesting that respondents are slowly progressing through the ranks. There are also encouraging signs since the CEDR 2007 Audit of an increase in the number of women entering the market and breaking into the “advanced” group of mediators.

“The market is opening up to less experienced mediators”

It is apparent, however, that newly trained mediators initially face difficulties in developing a successful practice. Such difficulties are not unique to the world of mediation – the perceived domination of the international arbitration market by a relatively small pool of experienced arbitrators has been the subject of debate for a number of years.

The Audit also reveals that experience in a particular sector was not particularly influential when it came to the selection of mediators. This is in contrast to the selection of arbitrators, where parties tend to be heavily influenced by an arbitrator’s specialist knowledge and/or particular sector experience.

Success of mediation

The Audit reports that approximately 75 per cent of cases referred to mediation settle on the day, with another 14 per cent settling shortly thereafter, resulting in a healthy aggregate settlement rate of 89 per cent. This is virtually identical to the performance reported in 2007. Whilst the settlement rate is not increasing, mediation continues in resolving their disputes in the vast majority of cases.

As to the most important contributors to settlement, mediators identified preparation (by clients, mediators and lawyers in that order) as being by far the most important factor, outweighing the impact of negotiation skills and specific mediator techniques. The reasons behind non-settlement of cases at mediation were unsurprising: intransigent parties, unrealistic expectations of parties and clients on fishing expeditions with no real desire to settle.

“Whilst the settlement rate is not increasing, mediation continues to assist parties in resolving their disputes in the vast majority of cases”

For the first time the Audit also cited the role of CFAs as a hindrance to settlement. It revealed mediators’ concerns that the high uplift in fees charged by solicitors prevented settlement, particularly where this additional cost liability inflated the value of the issues in dispute by a disproportionate amount. It was also suggested that CFAs led to a conflict of objectives between solicitor and client which sometimes created an additional barrier to settlement at mediation. It will be interesting to see whether Lord Justice Jackson’s recent recommendations that uplift fees should cease to be recoverable from unsuccessful opponents (as expressed in his costs review earlier this year), will be implemented; if so, whether this will alter the perception that CFAs are influencing the ‘success rate’ of mediation.

The future

It is thought the growth of mediation will continue: 42 per cent of mediators expect to be mediating more in the future. The main priorities for mediators were identified as the greater promotion of mediation and less fragmentation within the mediation profession. The Audit noted the existence of a plethora of individual mediators and service providers, very few of whom were satisfied by the volume of work they receive and many of whom were struggling to penetrate into a market which is dominated by a limited few.

The survey was undertaken using an internet-based questionnaire, which was open to all mediators and lawyers, regardless of organisational affiliation.

Amanda Greenwood is a senior associate and Amy Armitage is an associate in the dispute resolution group in London.

The Risk Atlas 2010

In partnership with global risks advisory firm Maplecroft, our corporate integrity group has contributed to the development of a product to analyse critical legal and regulatory risks affecting businesses worldwide – The Legal and Regulatory Environment Atlas 2010. It forms part of Maplecroft’s Global Risk Portfolio, which recently won Risk Product of the Year at the 2010 European Risk Management Awards.

Commercial organisations are exposed to a growing number of legal and regulatory risks across the globe. A non-transparent regulatory environment, weakly enforced regulation and inconsistent protection of property or access to remedies can result in higher operational and reputational costs to business. It is important to those involved in international trade to seek to manage their risk through a number of strategies, including dispute resolution and investment protection.

The approach

The Atlas enables organisations to identify and monitor a range of risks across 172 countries.

By assessing 20 risk indices the Atlas rates the legal and regulatory environments. It produces interactive maps and country-by-country scorecards providing an at-a-glance overview of the risks in the following six aggregated areas:

  • respect for the rule of law
  • business integrity and corruption
  • corporate governance
  • regulatory framework
  • respect for property rights
  • partner, sourcing and supply chain complicity.

These are all important factors that need to be taken into account by businesses when assessing and comparing legal and regulatory risks across countries where they operate.

The implementation of conventions

Working with Maplecroft, we assessed the implementation of ten key international legal conventions to evaluate how well each country has adhered to them, including:

  • New York Convention on the Recognition and Enforcement of Arbitral Awards (the New York Convention)
  • Convention on the Settlement of Investment Disputes (the ICSID Convention)
  • Convention on the Service abroad of Judicial and Extrajudicial Documents in Civil and Commercial matters (the Service Convention)
  • OECD Convention on Combating Bribery of Foreign Public Officials in International Business Transactions (the Anti-Corruption Convention)

In jurisdictions where there are gaps in the implementation of these conventions, access to remedies for foreign investors could be more limited than in countries where these conventions are a respected part of the regulatory framework.

In regard to Mexico for example, the Atlas identifies several prominent risk areas including judicial independence and business integrity and corruption, whilst the New York Convention is rated as implemented (albeit with some reservations). This may again point towards arbitration as the preferred option when dealing with Mexican counterparties.

Arbitration: the preferred option

Overall, arbitration emerges as a more flexible tool compared with recourse to national courts. The Service Convention, which simplifies the procedure for the service of judicial documents, does not have a wide application – only 16 countries are considered to implement it effectively. By contrast, 47 countries are considered to have good implementation of the New York Convention. This shows that there is far greater global recognition of the standard principles that apply to the enforcement of arbitral awards.

The maps indicate that countries that are considered to have a high risk of expropriation (and low respect for property rights) – such as Ecuador, Venezuela and Bolivia – are more likely to have ongoing ICSID (International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes) arbitrations. The regions with good implementation of the ICSID Convention (such as Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand) will, on the other hand, have fewer ICSID cases or have resolved the cases satisfactorily under this Convention.

Integrity and corruption

The category with the lowest average score globally, and therefore representing the most widespread risk, is business integrity and corruption. This, combined with the recent introduction of the UK  Bribery Act 2010 and increased anti-corruption enforcement activity, emphasises the need for internationally operating businesses to acknowledge and address the risks posed by corruption. One of the potential consequences of corruption is nullity of contracts obtained through bribery, which can result in loss of any recourse which would have otherwise been available under applicable investment protection treaties.


The Legal and Regulatory Environment Atlas 2010 is the first ever product to analyse critical legal and regulatory risks affecting businesses worldwide. Our experience with our clients has suggested there is an intelligence gap surrounding the legal and regulatory environment. For global organisations with interests in high risk environments the Atlas is an important step in bridging this divide.

Further details and costings for the Legal and Regulatory Environment Atlas 2010 can be found at Maplecroft's website. Our clients may benefit from a discount as a value-added service provided by our practice.

Sam Eastwood is a partner and  Svatava Sprague is a senior associate in the dispute resolution group in London.

Our corporate integrity group

We advise clients across the world on all matters relating to business ethics and bribery and corruption, enabling proactive management of litigation risks and the protection and enhancement of business reputations. In partnership with UCL , the Institute of Business Ethics and a range of corporate supporters we have established The Centre for Ethics & Law to provide a forum for leading academic and corporate partners to consider issues surrounding the ethical conduct of business.


Professor Robert Merkin joins Norton Rose Group
Professor Merkin has joined Norton Rose Group as a consultant. He is Research Professor of Commercial Law at Southampton University. In addition to having taught all aspects of law at postgraduate level, Professor Merkin is the author of many publications including Arbitration Law; The Arbitration Act 1996: An Annotated Guide; and Singapore Arbitration Law.

New book on the New York Convention
Frankfurt partner Dr. Dirk Otto is co-author of Recognition and Enforcement of Foreign Arbitral Awards – A Global Commentary on the New York Convention published by Kluwer.

Chambers Asia 2010
achieved new rankings in the region-wide arbitration category, and in the China/Hong Kong dispute resolution category. Our Singapore office maintained its top-tier ranking in dispute resolution: international arbitration. Singapore partner Guy Spooner and Hong Kong partners Camille Jojo and Jim James are featured as leading individuals.

ICC Commission on Arbitration/Singapore International Arbitration Centre (SIAC)
Joe Tirado has been appointed a UK  National Committee representative at the ICC  Commission on Arbitration. He has also been appointed to the SIAC Panel of Arbitrators.

Chartered Institute of Arbitrators
Senior Associate Henry Quinlan, based in Dubai, has been appointed a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and invited to become a founder member of the Young Members Group of the UAE  branch of the CIArb.

International Law Conference
On 9 June Joe Tirado gave a presentation in Moscow on “Avoiding and managing disputes in a major corporation” at the International Law Conference co-sponsored by the Russian Chamber of Commerce, the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce, the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators and the Anglo-Russian Lawyers Association.



Joe Tirado
Head of international arbitration and ADR


Matthew Croagh


Adam Vause


Michael Jürgen Werner


Jim James

Czech Republic

Pavlína Beránková


Jamie Nowak


Marie Kelly

Hong Kong

Ruth Cowley


Cecilia Buresti


Yke Lennartz


Malgorzata Patocka-Zbikowska


Valentina Gluhovskaya


Guy Spooner


Somboon Kitiyansub


Patrick Bourke

Focus on Greece: Marie Kelly

Marie Kelly is head of dispute resolution in our Athens office. She specialises in shipping litigation and contracts, and also has a great deal of experience in commercial litigation in the high court.

I am a lawyer because…
I can’t think of another job where I could get paid for arguing with people.

What gives you greatest satisfaction, professionally?
Nothing beats winning a case (particularly a difficult case) for a litigation lawyer. On a day-to-day basis, I get great satisfaction when I feel that the whole team is doing well and that we are being recognised in the market.

And personally?
Hanging out with my husband and three children.

How do you spend your weekends?
Cooking, eating and swimming in the sea.

If you weren’t a lawyer, what would you be?
A journalist or working in the catering industry.

Who is your hero?
Difficult one that. There are a number of contenders, but I would have to say my dad. He had a lot of adversity in his life but managed to live it with courage, honesty and integrity.

What’s on your iPod?
I gave my iPod away because I didn’t like the sound quality but I listen to a lot of music: soul, jazz, classical, indie and pop. At the moment, I spend car journeys listening to Plastic Beach by the Gorillaz.

What future do you see for Athens as an arbitration centre?
Not much of a future. I think it is unlikely that non-Greeks will take the risk that they might ultimately be subject to the Greek court system.

Why did you decide to become a lawyer?
I needed the money, but once I started doing disputes work I knew it was the job for me.

What is your biggest vice?
As anyone who knows me will testify, I have a weakness for food, cooking, eating in restaurants, drinking wine... you get my drift.

How would you describe Athens?
Traffic packed, chaotic, unpredictable, historic and fortunately, by the sea and close to the mountains.

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