Interview with Sanna Kaistinen, the FAI’s new Secretary General

Welcome to the FAI! When did you assume your new role as Secretary General and what is your professional background?

Thank you! I started in this position as of 1 September 2021. Before my transition to the FAI, I was a practicing attorney-at-law with the business law firm Avance Attorneys Ltd in Helsinki, focusing my practice on commercial and corporate arbitration and litigation.

How have your first few weeks been at the FAI?

It’s been a busy but exciting start – The FAI has many ongoing development projects, and we are very eagerly looking forward to the upcoming Helsinki International Arbitration Day (HIAD), which the FAI organises on 3 December 2021. The 7th edition of the Finnish Arbitration Academy is also currently rolling with an excellent and active participant body.

What drove you to pursue a career in the field of dispute resolution?

The availability of efficient and flexible means of dispute resolution is one of the cornerstones of functioning business activities. In the broader context, access to peaceful resolution of commercial, political and social unrest in the world is an essential prerequisite for the whole of humankind. Promoting the effective resolution of disputes has been one of the most intrinsic personal values for me in law since law school, and I’m very happy to be able to contribute to the community in my new role.

What are the strengths of the FAI and the larger arbitration community in Finland? What should be improved?

Strengths of the FAI definitely include the expeditious and flexible process – our institute is small and agile enough to work very efficiently, while meeting the prevalent international standards and best practices in administering the cases. The average duration of an FAI arbitration is 12 months in a so-called normal arbitration and 5 months in an expedited process, from the filing of the case with the FAI until the final award is rendered or the proceedings are otherwise finally terminated. These durations are an impressive achievement by any international comparison. In my experience, the Finnish arbitration community, including the FAI of course, also works with a very high degree of integrity, which I certainly consider to be a strength.

However, as always, there is room for improvement. The revision of the 1992 Finnish Arbitration Act has so far not moved forward during the term of the current Government, despite the majority of the local arbitration community giving strong feedback towards the adoption of the UNCITRAL Model Law. We could also be more relentless in marketing our service offering to parties also outside of Finland – the FAI is an excellent arbitral institute, and we have a lot to offer.

Any other greetings to the readers of the FAI newsletter?

I look forward to meeting with as many of you as possible, and I’m always happy to hear feedback, suggestions and improvement ideas. Also, with Covid restrictions hopefully soon behind us, most of us long to meet colleagues and friends from near and far face to face again. A great opportunity for this will be provided at HIAD, so don’t forget to register!

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