FAI Interview with Marko Hentunen, Vice-Chair of the FAI Board

 

Professional life in a nutshell

  • Master of Laws, University of Helsinki 1987
  • Union Bank of Finland (currently Nordea Bank) 1987-1989
  • Court training 1989
  • Castrén & Snellman Attorneys Ltd 1989-, Partner 1999-, Co-Head of the Dispute Resolution Practice
  • Board Member of the Finnish Arbitration Association
  • Member of the FAI Rules Revision Task Force 2012-2013
  • Vice-Chair of the FAI Board
  • Member of the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR, Chair of the Finnish National Committee
  • Member of the IBA Arbitration Committee and Litigation Committee, Officer of the Litigation Committee

 

You have been a Vice-Chair of the FAI Board already since 1.1.2013. What have been the FAI’s biggest achievements during these years?

The FAI has achieved a great deal during the past years. First and foremost, we conducted an extensive revision of the FAI Rules that came into effect in 2013. The main objectives of this revision were to improve the speed and cost-efficiency of arbitration proceedings and to introduce best international practices to the rules.

 

Now that the revised rules have been in use for some years, I am happy to see that we have accomplished what we set out to do. In most arbitration proceedings, the duration has been reduced to 8-9 months and the duration of expedited proceedings has been approximately 3 months. As the FAI now determines the fees and costs of the arbitrators based on a revised schedule, the costs have become more reasonable and foreseeable.

 

Since 2013, there has been a number of prominent international arbitration practitioners from various jurisdictions on the FAI board. Their input and active work has been invaluable in developing our ability to appoint the most skilled international arbitrators in cross-border disputes and administering our cases according to the best international standards. Their contribution has also been of key importance in promoting the recognition of Finland and of the FAI in the field of international arbitration. The results of this can be seen, for example, in the number of international cases administered by the FAI. Furthermore, the FAI Board has promoted gender diversity in arbitrator appointments, with nearly one-third of arbitrators appointed by the board being female during the past years.

 

I cannot speak highly enough of the hard work of the professional personnel of the FAI Secretariat. The Secretary General Heidi Merikalla-Teir has been indispensable to the institute’s development. Under the leadership of Heidi, the FAI has focused on cooperating with other arbitration institutes, such as the ICC, SCC and DIS, and has been well represented in international arbitration seminars and conferences. I am also proud of the popularity achieved by the Helsinki International Arbitration Day (HIAD), which has welcomed approximately 250 participants from a wide range of jurisdictions annually. This year, the FAI is honoured to host the 15th Biennial Conference of the International Federation of Commercial Arbitration Institutions (IFCAI) in Helsinki on 23 May 2019.

 

The FAI has also actively promoted the future of Finnish arbitration. We have launched a half-year educational programme for talented legal practitioners, the Arbitration Academy, which to date has been organised five times with a total of over 140 participants.

 

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

I am highly optimistic about Finland’s future as a seat of arbitration.

Finland has many good attributes as a venue for international arbitration: accessible geographical location, low corruption, impartiality, and a well-functioning legal and societal infrastructure. Furthermore, the work accomplished during the past few years has helped establish the FAI as a recognised and respected arbitration institute.

 

The next step is to revise the Finnish Arbitration Act, which dates back to 1992. The Finland Chamber of Commerce together with the FAI and the Finnish arbitration community have actively advocated the revision of the Arbitration Act. I am happy to say that these efforts have led to results. The Finnish Minister of Justice recently announced that a revision of the Finnish Arbitration Act will be launched already during the ongoing government term. I consider this development highly beneficial and important for Finland’s future as a seat of arbitration.

 

I hope that the reform will result in Finland having an Arbitration Act that meets international standards and best practices and will better serve the needs of the users. The reform would increase Finland’s popularity as a seat chosen in international commercial contracts and by international arbitration institutes when determining the seat. I think it is important that the reform is based on the UNCITRAL Model Law to the extent that Finland would gain model law status.

 

I am also happy to notice that law students are increasingly interested in international arbitration. This can be seen, among other things, in the number of legal trainees in law firms interested in working in arbitration as well as in the impressive popularity of the Willem C. Vis International Commercial Arbitration Moot amongst Finnish law students. I am confident that we will have highly skilled and motivated arbitration practitioners here in Finland also in the future.

 

 

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