Toward a Greener Future and Environmentally Friendly Arbitrations, from the Paris Arbitration Week

Posted By: Asmar Ismayilova CPR Speaks,

A sustainable environment has become essential for businesses world-wide, and the green arbitration movement includes the ADR community in that special challenge.

On March 29-30, members of the steering committee of the Campaign for Greener Arbitrations spoke at events in Paris Arbitration Week about how to make arbitrations environmentally friendly procedures. The Campaign initiated the idea to lessen the environmental impact of international arbitration.

The main goal of the campaign, which was founded in 2019 by international arbitrator Lucy Greenwood, who heads her own firm in Alresford, U.K., is to considerably reduce the carbon footprint of the arbitration community while resolving disputes. Greenwood spearheaded the Green Protocols, which describes processes for environmentally friendly arbitration proceedings.  

The practice drew the attention of practitioners, and Greenwood assembled interested key stakeholders under the Campaign. A steering committee prepared a Framework for the Adoption of Protocols and the six Green Protocols, which are available on the Campaign’s website in seven languages. 

Each Protocol provides instructions on its fit for a specific stakeholder and how more environment-friendly behaviors could be adopted. There are separate Green Protocols for arbitral proceedings with a model green procedural order; law firms, chambers and legal service providers working in arbitration; arbitrators; arbitration conferences; arbitral hearing venues, and a Green Protocol for arbitral institutions.

According to the Campaign website, nearly 20,000 trees might be exploited in order to compensate the total carbon emissions as a result of one arbitration. The Campaign asks practitioners to consider, among other things, decreasing the number of flights, reducing the paperwork, and even eliminating disposable coffee cups. 

Accordingly, the Committee developed several principles to be undertaken before signing a Green Pledge. Signatories agree to be committed to, among other things, “Creating a workspace with a reduced environmental footprint, by looking for opportunities to reduce energy consumption and waste”; “Using, where possible, suppliers and service providers who are committed to reducing their environmental footprint (including for the purposes of arranging an arbitration hearing)”; “Considering and/or suggesting, where appropriate, that witnesses or experts give evidence through video-conferencing facilities, rather than attend hearings in person,” and more.

[CPR Speaks is published by the International Institute for Conflict Prevention and Resolution, which is a signer of the Green Pledge discussed above.]

Another benefit provided by greener arbitration is that it can cut costs. According to a recent interview given by Campaign steering committee members Charlotte Matthews, an associate in the Hamburg, Germany, office of Hanefeld, and Sarah Peloux, the campaign's marketing and content development director, signatories can drastically reduce their costs by being commited to the Green Pledge: "Everyone wins:  the planet and the wallet." (See page 14 at the link.) 

The Campaign frequently promotes its principles and calls for environmentally friendly arbitrations from prominent platforms. Last month, the Campaign took part in the event, “Greening Arbitration: Actions speak louder than words!” within the Paris Arbitration Week. A March 29 panel was composed of members from the Global Steering Committee; the list and summary is available here.

The panelists shared the basic Campaign principles, highlighted previous successes, and outlined future plans to reduce the carbon impact of the arbitration proceedings. Panelists mentioned that arbitration hearings consume a lot of paper and require a lot of travels through flights. But they also emphasized how the Covid-19 pandemic positively affected implementation of their goals due to the decrease in numbers of flights and in person hearings.

Panelist Christine Falcicchio, founding principal of Sopra Legal Inc., a Hollywood, Fla., legal consulting firm, noted that the Campaign offers a set of tools, including the Corporate Retention Model Clause and Model Procedural Order, as well as green actions that can be adapted by any of the arbitration parties.

The experience of Freshfields Bruckhaus Deringer, one of the first global law firms to sign the Green Pledge, was introduced by Olivier André, the firm’s New York-based client relationship adviser for international arbitration. He explained how the firm put the Green Protocols into practice.

Panelist Chiara Tondini, international disputes counsel and chief operating officer at MDisputes in Florence, Italy, drew the audience's attention to the new Model Clause for Outside Counsel Retention and discussed how to apply it in contracts and other internal corporate documents.

Panelist Nathalie Allen, legal director at Addleshaw Goddard, an international law firm based in London, talked about the activities of the Europe Committee.

Paris Arbitration Week hosted another event with the Campaign, with the same panel lineup. “Strolling in Paris for a Greener Future” also promoted ideas about sustainability in international arbitration.

The panel emphasized that the Campaign's objective is to provide resources and recommendations for the ADR community for achieving sustainable behavior. Speakers also gave advice on creating a greener ADR future: reducing travel, reducing waste (especially in terms of the use of paper), and making efforts to track carbon impact.

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The author is a CPR Spring 2023 intern in Baku, Azerbaijan. She is a legal manager at the Alat Free Economic Zone Authority, a government agency, and a recent LLM graduate from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law.