López de Argumedo: “Keeping up to date is not an easy task”

Uría Menéndez arbitration partner and president of the International Association of Lawyers’ (UIA) arbitration commission Álvaro López de Argumedo discusses the upcoming fifth annual International Arbitration, Current Perspectives seminar.

Posted Thursday, May 12th 2022
López de Argumedo: “Keeping up to date is not an easy task”

LL: What are your goals as president of the UIA Arbitration Commission?

Argumedo: One of the UIA’s main objectives is to disseminate knowledge regarding a wide array of legal fields, an essential part of which involves keeping its members informed of new developments. I believe this to be particularly true in an area that is evolving as rapidly as international arbitration. Keeping up to date is not an easy task and institutions such as the UIA play an essential role in achieving that goal.

Having said that, I would say that my main goals as president of the UIA Arbitration Commission are facilitating close links among the members of the commission, so they can form a useful support network and act as resources for one another where necessary, and ensuring that all members are provided with the latest insights in connection with the field.

I believe that the title of the Bilbao seminar, International Arbitration, Current Perspectives, faithfully reflects both goals, as do other initiatives undertaken by the UIA International Arbitration Commission. For instance, the UIA is considering organising a webinar on sanctions on Russia in response to the crisis in Ukraine. Another example is the LinkedIn page that the International Arbitration Commission has recently set up, where we will regularly post updates on international arbitration ranging from articles authored by its members to updates on new awards and amendments to legislation.

 

What are the most relevant topics to be addressed at the UIA arbitration event this year?

The first two topics, construction and energy, refer to highly dynamic areas that account for a large proportion of high-profile arbitrations. The Bilbao seminar offers an excellent opportunity to obtain first-hand knowledge of new trends in this context.

In the two sessions dedicated to construction, we address dispute boards, a dispute-resolution mechanism whose relevance is growing exponentially, and analyse new developments in construction arbitration. The two sessions on energy will provide a state-of-the-art overview of renewable energy arbitration from both commercial and investment arbitration perspectives.

We also address other areas that will be extremely important in the coming years. These areas include third-party funding, which is seeing significant growth, and of course virtual platforms and new technologies, which have undergone a fundamental transformation following the COVID-19 health crisis.

 

What developments have you seen in your arbitration practice over the past year?

The past year has been a fascinating one for our international arbitration practice. We have assisted our clients (mainly in the construction and energy industries) in disputes all over the globe, but particularly in Europe and Latin America. We have also further developed our investment arbitration practice, defending both states and investors. On a different note, Madrid is emerging as a growing force in international arbitration, which was reflected in its recognition in the GAR Awards 2021 as the “jurisdiction that has made the greatest progress.”

In terms of trends, I would reiterate those already mentioned: the increasing importance of third-party funding and the increased use of technology, including virtual hearings. We have also witnessed the emergence of new arbitral seats with growing international importance apart from the traditional seats of Paris, New York, and London. Singapore is growing very quickly and Madrid is a rising star.