Arbitration Team of the Month #30
Jus Connect is pleased to nominate Accuracy for its coveted Arbitration Team of the Month (ATOM) Award, in recognition of the firm’s contributions to the arbitration world as an adviser and independent expert and its high level of expertise connecting strategy, facts, and figures.
Accuracy has an impressive track record in arbitration. They have been involved in at least 31 international and domestic arbitration case(s) known by Jus Mundi (21 Investor-State and 10 Commercial Arbitration) in a variety of economic sectors, including Energy – Electric Power, Construction, and Financial Services.
Eduard Saura, Managing Partner of Accuracy for Spain and Latin America and Co-Chair of the Oil and Gas Practice within the firm, discusses Accuracy’s consistent growth & success, its role as an expert in arbitration, and the impact technology can have in complex proceedings.
Congratulations on winning this coveted award! Can you tell us about Accuracy & its work in international arbitration?
Thank you! It’s an honour to be recognised by such a prestigious institute. Our international arbitration practice dates to the creation of the firm in 2004. Since the beginning, we have had a wide variety of cases in terms of industries, types (commercial and investor-State), geographies, seats of arbitration, and so on. Our own geographical expansion has only confirmed this diversity of cases: our work ranges from high-stake claims in regulated sectors in South America to complex construction disputes in Southeast Asia. We have also expanded our areas of expertise, and, in addition to classic damages assessments, we are often called as experts to opine in matters related to M&A, infrastructure, delay analyses, regulatory economics and more.
With offices all around the world and 19 years of consistent growth, what is the secret to Accuracy’s success, especially in arbitration?
There are several features in our DNA that make us stand out, but if I had to highlight one in arbitration, it would be that our experts continue to advise corporations and public bodies in their various fields of expertise. They advise infrastructure clients on risks, perform strategic and financial due diligence in acquisitions, review O&G joint ventures, value companies for IPOs, and so on. This keeps us up to date on industry practices and strengthens our credibility when we are called to give our expert opinion. We are, of course, very seasoned in giving evidence, but we believe that expertise should rely on actual industry experience.
Tell us about yourselves, how you came to work in arbitration, and your experience acting as an arbitrator.
I had the honour to work on Accuracy’s first landmark case in international arbitration. The case perfectly matched our abilities: a French client against a South American sovereign State. We knew the sector; we knew the languages; and we knew how to model a concession for the purpose of estimating damages. At the time, there was not much ICSID expertise in Europe – even for lawyers – so I can say we were among the pioneers of the practice in this region. Our success in that case and our ability to mobilise resources from various offices to match the needs of each case quickly allowed us to be recognised by lawyers as a go-to firm for complex cases, no matter the location.
During PAW 2023, Accuracy discussed the complexities of the arbitral process in construction cases and how technology can be used to help this process. What is the impact of tech on your work, especially in international arbitration?
Technology, including artificial intelligence, is a fantastic tool to gain efficiency. However, we are also prudent with its use because information traceability and detailed knowledge of the steps taken to reach our conclusions are key elements in an expert opinion. Thus, we do use advanced tools to give us comfort on our work and gain efficiency on certain tasks, but our work is crafted, and I believe it will continue to be so.
How important is visibility for your arbitration team? How does Accuracy promote its experts to maintain its high track record of appointments?
Lawyers always try to secure the most appropriate expert for a case. They will have various criteria, such as sector knowledge or cross-examination experience, but they will also factor in the reputation of both the firm and the expert. So, more than looking for visibility per se, we look for ways to showcase the DNA of our firm and highlight our individual experts. To do so, we attend conferences, we publish our Accuracy Talks Straight newsletter, we give lectures on valuation, and we keep our Jus Connect profile updated!
Some people in the field of international rotation do not understand why experts reach such different damages results on the same dispute. What is your opinion on this debate?
Differences in results in expert reports are mainly explained by different instructions regarding the scope of the analysis and the legal interpretation of the case, rather than by different economic parameters or methodology. This is why a good expert report should be very clear on its scope of work, the instructions regarding legal interpretations and, when responding to another expert, it should detail and explain the differences that reconcile the two results. Some may argue that this opens the door to Solomonic decisions, but in my experience, it helps the tribunal both on the merits and on the quantum, and it increases the efficiency of the hearings.
What are good practices you wish clients would adopt to make your collaboration on arbitration cases more efficient and successful?
We recommend that clients contact experts as soon as they consider starting a dispute or suspect they will be facing one. An early economic assessment will help them be aware of weaknesses and strengths in the valuation of the damages. This review will mitigate the risk of wrong expectations in terms of quantum, robustness of the approach, and difficulties in gathering the information, among other benefits.
What trends do you foresee in international arbitration and especially in energy arbitration?
International arbitration is tightly connected with the trends of large investments worldwide. Consequently, traditional sectors like energy – in all its forms – and infrastructure will continue to be major sources of disputes. In addition, we foresee that environmental and banking regulations worldwide will also create frictions between stakeholders. Therefore, they too will be sources of international arbitration. Finally, and very unfortunately, war and inequality will also cause a lot of commercial and investor-State disputes.
Congratulations to the team once again! Jus Connect wishes them nothing but success.