Frequently Asked Questions
Find here answers to the most frequently asked questions we have seen through the years.
Will I easily find interpreters and court reporters in Paris to assist me during my arbitration?
Yes. As well as being a major business centre, Paris is home to many international organisations such as UNESCO and the OECD. There are a great many professional interpreters and court reporters available in Paris. Paris, The Home of International Arbitration, has prepared a list of some of these professionals to help you get started.
How often will I have to travel to Paris during the arbitral procedure?
You can have the seat of your arbitration in Paris without ever needing to come to Paris. This is because it is possible to obtain the benefits of Paris as the legal place of arbitration while holding hearings elsewhere or not holding hearings at all. In most cases, parties will come to Paris at least once during the course of an arbitration – when final hearings are held. In many cases, parties will come to Paris another time to meet in person for a procedural hearing early in the process.
Is there any major consideration to take into account when selecting the seat of arbitration?
Yes. The key word is: anticipate. It is essential to give the contracting parties the security of a legal system that will ensure the enforceability of their award, avoiding expensive litigation about their arbitration while nevertheless ensuring that effective recourse is available in the event of procedural difficulties or irregularities. The principle under French law is that annulment of an award is possible only for specific and serious problems. French court procedures allow these actions to be heard quickly and inexpensively. On the contrary, in some other seats, it is possible to appeal arbitral awards on points of law, and annulment actions can be drawn-out and expensive affairs.
Can I select Paris as the seat for an ad hoc arbitration?
Yes. Paris is not just a renowned seat for institutional arbitration, but is an excellent choice of seat for ad hoc arbitration. Ad hoc arbitration allows for greater flexibility, but it lacks the security and support available from established institutions and their rules. By choosing Paris for your ad hoc arbitration, you ensure the availability of experienced courts applying established legal standards in the event your arbitration needs support.
Is Paris a good choice of seat for institutional arbitrations?
Yes. Paris courts are very familiar with and supportive of institutional arbitration. Paris is the home of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC), a French not-for-profit association founded in 1919 and devoted to the development of international commerce that has been at the forefront of the development of international arbitration. Thousands of arbitrations have been held in Paris under the ICC Arbitration Rules and the supervision of the ICC’s International Court of Arbitration. Paris is also the home to several other arbitration institutions such as the Centre de Médiation et d’Arbitrage de Paris (CMAP) and the Association Française de l’Arbitrage (AFA). Paris is also a frequent seat for arbitrations under the rules of many other institutions that are themselves not based in Paris, including the American Arbitration Association (AAA) and its international branch (the ICDR), and the London Court of International Arbitration (LCIA).
Does the law applicable to the contract usually determine the seat of the arbitration?
No, the applicable law to the contract and the seat of the arbitration are independent of each other when you select Paris as the seat of your arbitration, and arbitrations in Paris thus take place under a wide variety of applicable laws.
When I decide to hold an international arbitration in Paris, am I free to choose the language of the procedure and the law that will govern my contract?
Yes. There is no need to use the French language or French law in an arbitration seated in Paris. It is usually recommended to select as the language for the arbitration the language or languages used for the contracts or for the majority of communications between the parties. It is also recommended to state in advance the law that applies to the contract. In the absence of such a choice, arbitrators in France, unlike judges, are not required to follow national conflict of laws rules in order to decide which law they will use to decide the case.
By holding my arbitration in Paris, am I obliged to conduct the arbitral proceedings with French arbitrators and lawyers?
No. For over a century, Paris has hosted many thousands of international arbitrations, many of which have no links with France. Parties have been and remain totally free to conduct their arbitrations in the language they wish, applying rules and laws of their choice, with arbitrators and lawyers of their choice. Moreover, the French arbitration community itself includes multilingual practitioners of many nationalities who are up to date on economic and political issues that can have an impact on the resolution of complex, transnational commercial and financial disputes.
In choosing Paris as my seat of arbitration, do I guarantee the independence of my arbitrators?
Yes. The French courts are particularly sensitive to the independence of all arbitrators who participate in your arbitration. An arbitrator is a private person chosen by the parties, by an appointing authority (such as an arbitration institution) or, if necessary, by the court to make a decision in the dispute submitted by the parties. Some national laws require that the arbitrator be a lawyer or impose other limits on parties’ ability to choose their arbitrator – possibly even invalidating an entire arbitration because of contractually agreed restrictions as to who can sit as an arbitrator. Under French law, however, the only limitations as to who can serve as an arbitrator are the contractual limits set by the parties – of course along with the requirement that the arbitrator be independent and impartial.
Is there any advantage to choosing Paris as the place of arbitration for an ICSID or other arbitration between a State and a private party?
Yes. Paris is recognized for its specific advantages as a seat for both commercial and treaty arbitrations between private entities and States or state entities. Sovereign states and private enterprises both recognize Paris as a neutral and sophisticated forum. Treaty disputes brought before the International Centre for the Settlement of Investment Disputes (ICSID) are often held in Paris, with hearings at the European Headquarters of the World Bank – although the legal importance of the place of the arbitration is very different in ICSID cases as compared to other arbitrations. Treaty and commercial disputes involving states are also frequently submitted to International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) or other institutional arbitration. These arbitrations, in which the legal role of the seat maintains its full importance, are often seated in Paris.
Can I easily find specialists in my field in Paris?
Yes. In Paris, you can easily find specialists in virtually any field, including, for example, construction and engineering, major infrastructure projects, investment protection, energy and natural resources, transnational M&A, international sales, aeronautics and space, IP and IT, insurance and reinsurance, transport, etc.
Does France have its own “idea” of what international arbitration means?
Yes. The concept of international arbitration varies from country to country. Under French law, article 1504 of the Civil Procedure Code provides that “arbitration is international if it implicates interests of international commerce”. As a result, and independently from any other criteria – such as the parties’ nationality, residence or corporate headquarters, the place of the arbitration, or the applicable law – French law will consider an arbitration to be international as long as it relates to an economic operation that involves the international movement of goods or services or involves an international payment.
Is Paris a leading venue in terms of the number of arbitrations held over recent years?
Yes, Paris has long been and remains one of the leading sites for holding arbitrations. Paris is the most commonly selected place of arbitration for ICC arbitrations – now chosen for approximately 90 ICC arbitrations per year. It is also one of the leading choices of seats in other institutional and ad hoc arbitrations.
Is Paris a well-regarded seat of arbitration?
Yes, Paris has a long-standing reputation as an excellent arbitral seat. French arbitration law has long been viewed as a model for other countries, and French jurisprudence regarding arbitration is widely considered to be clear and well established. Courts have been supportive of arbitration for decades, and French law thus provides parties with legal certainty that their agreement to arbitrate will be enforced. It allows the parties complete freedom to organize their arbitration, subject only to internationally recognized minimum standards of due process. Many of the best rules established by French courts over recent years were incorporated into a new amendment to the French arbitration law in January 2011.