We speak with Helena Tavares Erickson, Esq., Senior Vice-President, Dispute Resolution
Services & Corporate Secretary, at CPR: International Institute for Conflict Prevention
and Resolution (CPR).
Please tell us a little about the key elements of your role?
I have begun my sixteenth year with
CPR. I started working with CPR’s
industry and practice focussed ADR
committees, and on research and
education, and eventually came
to oversee the Dispute Resolution
Services and Panels departments in
administering commercial matters. I
am also the liaison to the Arbitration
Committee and serve as CPR’s Challenge
Review Officer. In addition, I oversee our
Awards Program, our Brazil Initiative,
and CPR’s Annual Meeting.
I came to this job after spending 17 years
in private practice working primarily in
international arbitration and litigation at
major global law firms. As such, when
parties and counsel bring a case to us,
they know that they are coming to
someone who has been in their shoes,
who understands arbitration, the types
of disputes they’re dealing with and,
importantly, the types of neutrals
appropriate to deal with those disputes.
Please tell us about CPR, and what is unique about CPR’s approach to arbitration?
CPR is an independent non-profit
organization that helps prevent and
resolve legal conflict effectively and
efficiently. CPR’s offices are located in
New York, though parties can also file
CPR cases at CEDR in London. We have
a broad remit which includes mediation,
arbitration and other ADR (such as mini-trials
and dispute resolution boards).
CPR was formed in 1977 by corporate
counsel and their external lawyers who,
in the face of the high costs of litigation,
sought alternative mechanisms. That
collaboration with corporate counsel at
multinational companies and external
counsel continues today.
Early on, most of our work related
to raising awareness, in the US and
globally, about ADR. Our board identifies
regions where they see a particular
need for education or training – that
is how we started our Brazil Initiative,
and we are currently expanding
throughout Latin America. Our training
materials have been translated into
many languages, and used in Africa,
the Middle East, across Asia, and
elsewhere. In 2004, CPR developed
a China business mediation centre.
CPR provided input to the original EU
Mediation Directive, and representatives
participated in the Singapore Mediation
Convention working group sessions.
In terms of arbitration, CPR’s early
years focussed on non-administered
arbitration. Most of our members and
users were parties and counsel who were
sophisticated and capable of running
proceedings on their own. More recently,
some of our multinational members
asked CPR to come up with a set of
administered rules. They were finding
some of their counterparties were not
as comfortable with a non-administered
process. That led CPR to develop
Administered Arbitration Rules. We
also have a range of sector-specific rules
and programmes, including a franchise
mediation programme, patent and
trademark rules, and construction rules.
Many cases under CPR rules or where
CPR neutrals are involved, are still
non-administered. For that reason, we
don’t have all encompassing caseload
statistics available. In terms of cases
where CPR is asked to assist parties in
selecting a neutral (in administered
proceedings or otherwise), in the last
fiscal year 19 per cent of cases arose
out of contractual disputes, 9 per cent
construction, 13 per cent franchise,
and 9 per cent corporate disputes. The
remainder encompasses various different
disputes, such as insurance, IT, IP,
government contracts, patents, or M&A.
Our panel of neutrals comprises
accomplished individuals who have
been acting as neutrals for some time.
They come from all walks of life. 99 per
cent are attorneys, with some dual
qualified, for example, as engineers or
accountants. All have practiced in their
field for many years, many have been
GCs or partners at law firms, and many
were involved in ADR as a party or
counsel before becoming a neutral. We
have 28 speciality panels, such as our
energy and construction panels.
Our neutrals come from all over, and
over 20 per cent are located outside the
US. We can (and do) provide local
neutrals for venues right across the US
and the world.
In 2019, CPR revised its CPR Rules for Administered Arbitration, for both domestic and international disputes. Can you describe a few key features?
We have introduced a threshold for cases
(US $3 million) beneath which, absent
party agreement otherwise, a sole
arbitrator will be appointed by default.
Another new feature is that where a panel
of three arbitrators is to be appointed,
the default selection mechanism will be
CPR’s award-winning screened selection
process. That process provides that each
party will nominate its own arbitrator,
but all interface with the arbitrators is
conducted through CPR with no contact
between candidate and nominating party.
Arbitrators do not know which party
nominated them, thus strengthening
neutrality (perceived and actual).
We have added and strengthened our
rules on early disposition of issues. We
have had guidelines for arbitrators on
early disposition for many years, but our
rules committee felt it time to set out in
the rules how the process would work.
We also now provide for cybersecurity to
be discussed at the first conference. In
addition, our rules encourage tribunals
to suggest mediation during proceedings
(though the arbitrators are prohibited
from sitting as the mediators, and
vice versa). In addition, as arbitrators
are sometimes reluctant to suggest
mediation fearing parties might think
they have prejudged the case, the rules
provide for CPR to reach out at an
appropriate time (e.g. post-discovery) to
nudge parties to consider mediation.
We have provisions dealing with timeliness
of awards. According to our latest statistics,
most cases are decided within 11.1 months.
But efficiency remains a focus, so we
added rules for adoption of a timetable in a
pre-hearing conference. In most cases, the
hearing is to be held within six months for
domestic cases or nine months for international
cases after the first conference, and the
final award is to be rendered two months after
the close of proceedings. If a case is not
concluded within 12 months, arbitrators
and parties are expected to seek approval
from CPR explaining why. We also have
new rules encouraging participation by
Costs and duration of proceedings is an ongoing concern for parties. What is CPR’s approach to managing or mitigating these concerns?
Efficiency in time and costs is at the
very heart of CPR’s approach. We find
when these are issues for users of
ADR, generally it is because they are
not using CPR! Most of our neutrals
are accomplished and accustomed to
running proceedings; they do so very
well, and are not afraid of curbing
parties when it is needed. As I noted
previously, most cases are decided
within 11.1 months and if a case runs
on more than a year then CPR will ask
the parties and tribunal to explain why.
CPR is not for the litigator who wishes
to leave no stone unturned. That said, if
the parties are seeking a procedure that
is basically the equivalent of a Federal
Court litigation but private (such as
where trade secrets are discussed), we
are able to provide that too. We do not
have a cookie cutter approach; we work
with parties to help them resolve their
dispute in the manner they need and want.
CPR is part of a task force looking at the important issues of cybersecurity and data protection. Can you tell us about the task force’s work?
My colleague Olivier André, SVP
International, is CPR’s designee to the
cybersecurity task force. They are very
hard at work. Their draft guidelines
have gone through several comment and review periods, and are due to
be released in the fall. So, watch this
space! We also have our own cyber panel
comprising a group of neutrals who
have experience in cyber breaches and
What other innovations has CPR been involved in recently?
We have been involved for many years
in online dispute resolution (ODR). We
have been working with a provider of
ODR services, as well as working with
corporate members on programmes
in this area. CPR also participated in
the UNCITRAL working group for ODR
rules. In the US, we have not seen a lot
of take up yet but that is not the case
universally. In Brazil, some companies
resolve all of their disputes online and
have done so for years.
What is CPR’s approach to addressing concerns about a lack of diversity in arbitral appointments?
Encouraging diversity in the widest
sense of the word (encompassing
gender, race and ethnicity, geographic
location, age, LGBTQ, disability etc.)
is very important to CPR. We address
diversity issues from many angles
including recruitment, nominations,
We have language in our nomination
letters to remind parties that diversity
is important and to encourage them
to consider diverse candidates. Our
diversity task force is working on a
model clause that can be adopted by
parties which will also encourage parties
to select diverse candidates. There is
also a strong impetus to push forward
and train young attorneys, who are most
often a more diverse pool. Our rules
encourage involving young lawyers as
advocates in parts of proceedings, with
the help of a senior lawyer as necessary.
CPR and FINRA also have a programme
with the Leadership Council on Legal
Diversity which offers training and
mentorship to candidates from diverse
backgrounds over a two year period.
We are involved with other organizations
that promote diversity, and offer training
and hold events on these issues. And
we are delighted to be seeing progress
– according to our FY2018 statistics,
31 per cent of our neutrals selected were
diverse. That is a larger percentage than
our pool of neutrals who identify as diverse
– which is a testament to their quality.
CPR and CEDR recently published a report on their survey of corporate counsel on the use of ADR and arbitration. Can you share any key insights?
The corporate counsel surveyed reported
significant experience with ADR
processes. There was no straightforward
preference for one type of ADR over
another, preference was nuanced and
dependent on the case; though there
was a preference for arbitration in
cross-border disputes. A meaningful
proportion of arbitrations settled through
mediation: 30 per cent of domestic cases
and 20 per cent of cross-border cases.
Overall mediation’s overall success rate
was reported to be very high on both
sides of Atlantic – indeed UK mediators
reported an aggregate settlement rate of
89 per cent.
Anecdotally, I have noticed that counsel
and parties are increasingly looking to
use local venue locations and neutrals
local to the venue. They are less likely to
want mediators or arbitrators from far away
unless the case calls for their unique
experience. I suspect this is driven by
costs considerations. But it also speaks
to the increase in the number and
quality of local neutrals. Outside the US,
there remains a tendency towards major
arbitration centres but we have seen a
growth in interest in new regions, such
as Spain. We are also regularly fielding
enquiries for collaboration from
institutions across Asia and Africa. So
ADR in general, and arbitration in
particular, is growing everywhere.
CPR recently launched a new International Mediation Procedure, which proved timely given the Singapore Meditation Convention launched in August 2019. What are your thoughts on these developments?
CPR’s International Mediation Procedure
was introduced in 2017 to replace our
geographic-specific procedures. The
new procedure is intended to be usable
in all parts of the world. The Singapore
Mediation Convention is a very
welcomed development. It will assist
legal communities across the world,
where there is not currently a robust
culture of mediation, to grow their
mediation centres and practices.
If the Singapore Mediation Convention
can do for mediation what the New York
and Panama Conventions have done
for arbitration, I will be very pleased.
The challenge is to get to that level of
acceptance and implementation, but I
am hopeful. The world is changing so
significantly and rapidly, particularly
technology, which is impacting
relationships between counterparties.
In these times, having consensual
processes available for resolving
disputes is so important.