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International arbitration — once heralded as a more effective and efficient alternative dispute resolution mechanism than international litigation — is now routinely criticized for replicating some of the same failings as litigation: excessive cost and duration of proceedings. The greatest strength of international arbitration — its procedural flexibility — can be used to control its increasing cost and duration. As a party or practitioner, the key is choosing the best procedural tradeoffs to maximize the ability to present one’s strongest case without incurring unnecessary and substantial additional costs or time. Nearly 40% of in-house counsel reported in a 2006 PricewaterhouseCoopers study that, in their experience, international arbitration was more expensive than international litigation. The study, by Gerry Lagerberg of PricewaterhouseCoopers and Loukas Mistelis of Queen Mary’s School of International Arbitration, entitled “International Arbitration: Corporate Attitudes and Practices 2006,” states that half of the in-house counsel respondents named “expense” as their greatest concern with international arbitration. The increased expenses and delays associated with international arbitration observed by in-house counsel have been confirmed by outside counsel. For example, in June 2008, Chambers USA reported that the leading international arbitration practitioners in the United States agreed that “it would be misleading to suggest that [international] arbitration is the cheaper or faster option” than litigation.

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