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New international arbitration court chairman in Toronto

|Written By Kelly Harris

John Beechey, chairman of the International Court of Arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce, says he is committed to “clearing out and cutting through the red tape,” in the organization, smoothing out practices and creating efficiencies.

He spoke to an audience of lawyers, arbitrators, and judges in Toronto last week about the history and future of arbitration.

Beechey was named chairman of the court in June 2008 and took over the reigns in January. It was his first trip to Canada since being named chairman.

However he pointed out, to the pleasure of many of the audience, it was not his first trip to Canada, and that he “came to Canada before long before the United States.”

While arbitration is seen as a way to control costs, Beechey spoke of an early arbitration he worked on joking, “the Lancaster Hotel, some of you are familiar with, off the Champs (Elysées) was entirely redecorated as a result of our stay.”

On a more serious note, he commented on what he referred to as the business of arbitration, an idea some in the industry scoff at. However, Beechey noted there the competitive nature of the practice proves it is a business.

The ICC International Court of Arbitration headquartered in Paris, France, is the world’s leading institution for resolving international commercial and business disputes.

He also announced a new hearing centre in Paris.

Prior to joining the court, Beechey was a senior international arbitration partner at Clifford Chance LLP in London, England.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce hosted the Toronto luncheon. The chamber maintains an arbitration committee serving the Canadian National Committee to the International Chamber of Commerce International Court of Arbitration.

The committee maintains a panel of more than 50 arbitrators who can be asked by chamber on behalf of the court to arbitrate a dispute.

The arbitration committee also administers arbitration programs in Canada, educates on the merits of international commercial arbitration, and promotes ICC arbitration services.