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Copyright © International Chamber of Commerce (ICC). All rights reserved.
( Source of the document: ICC Digital Library )
John took up the presidency of the ICC International Court of Arbitration in January 2009. The period leading up to his election had been one of some upheaval at the Court. I think he wanted the chance to give something back to a field of legal practice in which he was, and remains, active. He cared deeply about the Court - an institution which, in his view, was in need of an overhaul and a new sense of purpose and direction. One of his principal aims was to instil in the Court and the Secretariat the ethos of a service provider offering the highest quality of service, transparency and integrity to all of its users.
Change is rarely effected without turbulence and controversy and so, being less brave and more self-interested than John, I was concerned that this would make for a difficult and unpopular tenure. He, however, has never been one to avoid a challenge and he threw himself into the fray with his characteristic gusto, stamina, pragmatism and, I may say, a full head of hair. The first three remain undiminished; the hair, however, is thinner.
In the course of his six-and-a-half years at the Court, John has presided over changes to the Rules, the Court's move to premises with facilities essential for a modern working environment, the opening of an office in New York for the operations of the Secretariat, the wholesale reform of the ICC's operations in Brazil and of the procedures by which arbitrators are appointed by National Committees in important jurisdictions including France, Germany, Italy and the UK. Lastly, and most importantly in his view, he persuaded the ICC Chairmanship of the value of a governing body for the Court, responsible for making long-term strategy recommendations to the ICC Executive Board. Under Karl Hennessee's energetic and charismatic leadership, it is proving its worth.
He also introduced a series of measures to enable the Secretariat to work more efficiently. Awards written in German, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian are now reviewed by special committees in those languages to avoid the need for translation of lengthy awards into the Court's official languages, English and French. He also reviewed personally all applications for extensions of time, dealing directly with the Secretariat rather than taking Court time.
On top of all this, John travelled frequently and extensively backwards and forwards across time zones around the globe from the Antipodes to an unscheduled stopover in Novosibirsk en route to Korea. He was the first President of the Court to visit Cuba, East Timor and Myanmar. Always master of the unexpected, on one occasion he fitted in a photo shoot with Justin Bieber in Miami. Sometimes, he would just touch down at Heathrow to collect a suitcase of clean clothes before jetting off again. I was able to accompany him on some trips but his schedule was far too punishing for me to do so on a regular basis.
He also attended as many of the weekly Court sessions as he could, liaised with the Secretariat about issues in particular cases and represented the Court's interests on the Executive Board and Finance Committee of the ICC. He sought personally to reply to all correspondence sent his way, including complaints, although those from me did not seem to receive quite the same amount of attention! Fortunately in all of this, there was still time to indulge a love of opera with memorable evenings, often in the company of colleagues who had become firm friends, in England, Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, the USA and Australia.
Of course, John did not do all the above single-handedly and he would be the first to admit that he could not have done. He is enormously grateful for the help and support of many colleagues. It would be impossible to name all who should be named, but I have, particularly, to mention Jason Fry, Andrea Carlevaris, Simon Greenberg, José Feris, Christian Albanesi, Alexander Fessas, Emmanuel Jolivet and Marie-Laure Lehnig, his outstanding PA. We have made some much-valued friendships during the course of John's presidency and very much look forward to maintaining them in the future. I am very touched, as I know John will be, that so many busy people have taken the time and trouble to contribute to this book in his honour.