Today Kristin Campbell-Wilson assumes her role as Acting Secretary General of the Arbitration Institute of the Stockholm Chamber of Commerce (SCC).
Kristin has a background as a lawyer in the dispute resolution team at one of Stockholm’s international law firms. She left private practice in 2012 to take on the role of Deputy Secretary General of the Arbitration Institute. Within the scope of this role, Kristin was responsible for the daily operations and in developing the services, rules and practices of the institution, in addition to actively promoting SCC’s dispute resolution services in the context of both domestic and international trade. Kristin is now taking over as Acting Secretary General as Annette Magnusson steps down after serving 11 years in this position.
What are SCC’s strengths as a dispute resolution institute?
Arbitration is deeply rooted in the Swedish legal tradition and the SCC and Swedish lawyers have had the chance to develop broad and in-depth expertise and experience in international arbitration since the 1970s. If we have the Cold War to thank for this opportunity, it is the craft itself and a forward-looking approach that consolidate the position of Sweden and the SCC on the global arena. SCC is internationally acknowledged for being a time- and cost-efficient forum compared to similar institutions, and remains at the forefront of developing dispute resolution in terms of procedure as well as administration. We identified the added value of digitalizing the procedure and administration early on, which has proved to be useful in times of crisis like the one we face now with the ongoing pandemic.
What trends do you see in arbitration?
At the SCC, we administer commercial disputes of varying sizes within a large range of industries, including retail, energy, construction, life sciences and industry. As a result of the increasing digitalization of products and services, businesses very quickly become actors on the international market, and I believe arbitration as a dispute resolution method will serve companies with international ambitions very well. I think this is particularly true for the start-up and tech industries.
Simply put, arbitration is suitable for all types of agreements, regardless of industry. However, in addition to paying fees for legal representation, the parties also pay the fees of the arbitral tribunal and an administrative fee to the institute, which may make it less suitable in low-value disputes. There are other scenarios, in which an arbitration proceeding is not appropriate or desirable.This is why, the SCC will soon launch a new dispute resolution service to be used in situations when the parties are willing to reduce the scale of their process and forgo certain procedural steps in favour of time and cost efficiency.
What is it about arbitration that you find so engaging?
During my time as counsel, I found the appeal of arbitration lied in its intensity, and in the relatively quick resolution to the dispute, which cuts both time and costs for the client. This way, there is closure and the client may move on from the dispute and focus its time, energy and resources on developing the business rather than on a long-lasting dispute. As a phenomenon, international arbitration is incredibly inspiring and a huge success story for both commercial and intergovernmental disputes. This form of dispute settlement is supported in over 160 countries through the 1958 New York Convention, making it the most successful international treaty of all time, and arbitration has resolved several challenging intergovernmental disputes in a peaceful way. That in itself deserves a great deal of respect.
Dispute resolution clauses – a must-have for doing business
As one of the world’s leading construction and project development companies, Skanska currently runs building projects across the Nordic region, Europe and the United States. The company has many longstanding contractual relationships with its subcontractors. We asked Jenny Bergendorff, General Counsel at Skanska Sweden, three questions about contract writing and the importance of the dispute resolution clause in implementing a project and closing a deal.
How is contract writing itself a key to a successful business deal?
The agreements are incredibly important for Skanska as a company as well as in individual projects. It’s all about getting the content right in terms of risk sharing and responsibility. But the agreements also need to be clearly formulated because they will govern the relationship if, at the end of day, the parties suddenly disagree. For Skanska, it’s also important that people involved in a project and who execute the agreement also understand this. They’ve got to be aware of what is stipulated, what rights and obligations Skanska has, and at what point in time a right must be claimed in order to run the project in the best and most predictable way.
Can you write the perfect agreement, or is there always a risk of disagreement and disputes in a contractual relationship?
In the best of worlds, you write your agreement and put it in the drawer where it sits while the project goes on. But it is very rarely done that way. Although we can usually avoid ambiguities and weaknesses in the contract formulations to a great extent, we can’t foresee every situation that might arise in a contract that runs for an extended period of time. Anything can happen, from a new condition being discovered during ground work to sudden objections from the municipality or third parties. That’s why the dispute resolution clause can have a major impact on the continuing contractual relationship.
The contracting parties can agree from the outset that agreement disputes have to be resolved through arbitration. What do you think is the main advantage of private dispute resolution compared with ordinary court proceedings?
Disputes that are going to be resolved in an ordinary court of law can last for years, with testimony and so on, which takes its toll on the relationship. It’s like all forms of disputes – in private relationships or between companies. The sooner you can settle things and find a solution, the easier it is to find your way back to each other after the period of a strained relationship. So the speed of the private dispute resolution alternative can have a huge impact on completing the deal.
For some time now, the general trend in our industry has been towards larger international projects. At the moment, it seems like there are more disputes than usual. Many companies are under financial pressure and have a lot to lose. In business relationships with foreign subcontractors, as I see it, arbitration is often a necessity as a dispute resolution procedure in order to resolve the jurisdictional issue and to gain a predictable agreement even in the event of a dispute.
The Investor State Dispute settlement (ISDS) system has been in much debate for several years. Brooke Guven, Kinda Mohamadieh and Victoria Sahani share their views on how to develop the ISDS resolution system for the future in a newly published book – and in a recent SCC Online Seminar.
On the occasion of the recently published book The Investor-State Dispute Settlement System Reform, Replace or Status Quo? edited by Alan M. Anderson and Ben Beaumont and with foreword by the SCC Secretary General Annette Magnusson, we arranged a SCC Online Seminar on the theme of the ISDS reform.
– We believe that as a neutral institution it is our responsibility and role to be part of and contribute to an open forward-looking discussion about how to develop the ISDS system for the future. By cross-fertilizing smart ideas, we can in the end come up with something that is even better tomorrow than it was today, says Annette Magnusson.
At this zoom-event Ben Beaumont introduced the book, and three of the authors of the book - Brooke Güven, Senior legal researcher at Columbia Centre for Sustainable Investment, Kinda Mohamadieh, PhD candidate at the International Law, Department of the Graduate Institute in Geneva and Victoria Sahani, Associate Dean of Faculty Development and Director of FIRST at Arizona State University - gave their views on some of the most discussed ISDS system issues, in a conversation moderated by Patricia Shaughnessy, Associate Professor at Stockholm University and founder of the International Commercial Arbitration Law Masters Program.
Watch a recording of the SCC Online Seminar
Watch a recording of the seminar Stirring the Pot: Ways to Avoid Boiling Over in Investor-State Disputes, Third Party Funding, and Reform of the ISDS System >> here
Read more about the book The Investor-State Dispute Settlement System Reform, Replace or Status Quo? at Wolters Kluwer >> here