Athina Fouchard Papaefstratiou MCIArb

Why have you decided to specialise in ADR? What attracted you to this area of law?

Specialising in ADR was due to a series of coincidences, that began with an inspiring international arbitration course in QMUL. Then, to be honest, international arbitration allowed me to gain professional experience in France in 2007, despite my broken French at the time! Today, after more than thirteen years of working in international arbitration, I am so glad that I chose to specialise in a field where I have had the chance to experience different legal systems, different industries, and of course  work with amazing individuals from all over the world. Last but not least, the unique and intellectually fulfilling possibility that international arbitration offers to act both as counsel and as arbitrator has been the cherry on the cake for me!  

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge in your career as a female practitioner in arbitration?

Time (rather lack thereof)! Finding time to work on files and business development, and also securing quality time with family and friends… At least work-life balance in the arbitration market today is, I like to think, much better than it used to be twenty years ago. Having an interesting and fulfilling job makes up for the hours one spends working!

What do you consider as the biggest challenge for the ADR in the future?

ADR should continue developing in a way that meets the needs of the business community, so as to ensure reliable and quick dispute resolution. This, in my view, entails maintaining the flexibility of arbitration (and allowing for the procedure to be tailored to the specific needs of each particular case) and limited intervention by national courts.

Are there any interesting developments in the field of ADR in the jurisdiction you are based in?

The recently established International Chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal will become the competent court for post-arbitration litigation in France (proceedings to set aside arbitral awards and enforcement litigation). This is a welcome development which renders Paris an even more attractive arbitration seat, as the International Chamber of the Paris Court of Appeal provides for more procedural flexibility, and allows for proceedings to be held in English.

How has a membership with the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators benefitted your career?

Being part of the big CIArb family has given me the invaluable opportunity to work with extremely talented individuals outside of my firm, to follow relevant developments worldwide, and to participate in very interesting events!

If you could meet famous person for a dinner, dead or alive, who would that be?

Gerald Durrell, the author of the Corfu Trilogy. I have read the books five times, and parts thereof dozens of times. And I still cannot help laughing out loud when reading certain passages. One is supposed to have fun at dinners, right?

Athina Fouchard Papaefstratiou