The champagne is chilling, and spirits are high – the deal is about ready for signature. Then some pedantic killjoy lawyer insists that the parties finalise the dispute resolution clause, which has consistently called for international arbitration but otherwise has lingered in successive drafts of the undeveloped ‘boilerplate’ sections ‘to be added’. Nothing could be further from everyone’s minds; they are optimistically imagining the bright future when all goes as anticipated, not what happens if something goes badly wrong. “Let’s just use whatever we agreed for the last deal,” someone suggests. “Good idea. Now pop the cork!”
That decision could be a big mistake. International arbitration is often an excellent choice for international deals. It offers many benefits over local courts: a neutral forum, ability to choose decisionmakers, and superior international enforcement of awards. However, failure to appreciate the extraordinary range of options associated with arbitration can lead to missed opportunities and potentially serious risks.