FAI Interview with Petra Kiurunen, Chair of the FAI Board

Professional life in a nutshell

  •  Master of Laws, University of Helsinki, 1996
  • Customs Secretary, National Board of Customs, 1996
  • Associate Lawyer, Hannes Snellman, 2000
  • Senior Associate, Hannes Snellman, 2004
  • Partner, Head of International Arbitration, Hannes Snellman, 2008
  • Partner, Lindfors & Co, 2010 –

 

  • Finnish Arbitration Association, member of the board 2012 –
  • Member of the FAI Board 2013 –
  • Chair of the FAI Board 4/2018 –

 

You were appointed as the Chair of the FAI Board as of 1 April 2018. Could you briefly tell our readers about your future plans at the helm of the FAI Board?

I have had the pleasure of being part of the FAI Board since the beginning of 2013 and a vice-chair from June 2013 onwards. During that time, the FAI has taken great steps to raise its profile both in Finland and abroad and to further anchor its position as a notable European arbitration institute. My first goal is to keep up the good work that has already been done under the chairmanship of Mika Savola.

At the same time, it is of course crucial that the FAI does not rest on its laurels but keeps a keen eye on what is happening in the arbitration community and most importantly, what are the expectations and wishes of the users of the FAI’s services, because, in my view, the FAI is, as are all the other arbitration institutes, first and foremost a service provider, and we need to ensure that the service is always impeccable. With high quality rules and a highly professional staff, the FAI has of course all the necessary elements for that.

In addition to ensuring that the rules remain modern and in accordance with best international practices, I believe the FAI is also in a good position to be at the forefront of adapting new innovations and ways to improve its services. With Finland being known as a modern, high-tech country, I believe the FAI should follow the reputation and take heed of the current developments e.g. on digital platforms. First steps have already been taken with introduction of the legal design project on the FAI arbitration process, as we learned in this year’s HIAD.

In addition, one should of course always remember that arbitrator appointments are in the core of every institute’s tasks, and we at the FAI must constantly also strive to find and appoint the best persons for any given case.

 

How do you see Finland’s future as seat of arbitration?

In terms of infrastructure, services available, general legal environment and even location, I believe we have what it takes. However, the one issue that keeps coming up in discussions on this topic is our current Arbitration Act. Although there are perhaps no fatal flaws in the act itself, it is already 25 years old and even more importantly, its contents are unknown to foreign practitioners. When choosing a seat, one does not start studying the local laws, but chooses a venue where the regime is familiar. Therefore, I personally believe Finland should adopt the UNCITRAL Model Law at least to the extent that we could call Finland a model law country.

In the long run, I would also wish to see arbitration being taught in the universities more than it is today. Not only would it contribute to the overall discussion on, and practice of, arbitration, but it would also ensure that we will in the future have a sufficiently large and competent pool of both arbitration counsel and arbitrators.

However, what is certain, is that nothing can be gained by staying put and being quiet – we also need to go out to the world and market Finland as the seat of choice!

 

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