King & Spalding (Singapore) LLP
1 Raffles Quay, #31-01 North Tower
048583, Singapore, Singapore
Elodie Dulac is an eminent figure in Singapore where she impresses market observers with her "skill in advocacy and communication" and her wealth of experience in commercial and investment arbitrations across the region. "She is outstanding in treaty arbitrations."
Elodie Dulac is a partner in King & Spalding’s Singapore office and a member of the firm’s International Arbitration group. Ms. Dulac has represented clients in commercial and investment arbitrations around the world, with a particular focus on Asia, where she has been based for 17 years. She has also been appointed as an arbitrator in over 25 arbitrations. She has particular expertise in energy, mining, joint venture/shareholder and investor-state disputes, as well as Asia-Africa disputes.
What characteristics make for an outstanding arbitrator?
A good (and potentially outstanding) arbitrator is one who (i) is independent and impartial and conducts himself/herself in a neutral matter; (ii) is well-prepared throughout the arbitration; (iii) is pleasant with both the other members of the tribunal, if any, and the parties, while still being firm when needed; (iv) is open minded to the other tribunal members (if any) and the parties’ views as opposed to making up his/her mind early on and by himself/herself; (v) is decisive when needed, notably in the face of the proliferation of applications by parties; and (vi) is analytical, i.e. in the sometimes universe of points pleaded by the parties, he/she is able to identify the decisive ones.
You were recently appointed as delegate to the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR. What does this entail and what do you hope to achieve in this role?
I was appointed earlier this year as a Singapore representative on the ICC Commission on Arbitration and ADR. Having been in Singapore for over 17 years, I am happy to be one of Singapore’s voices on the Commission. The Commission plays a significant role in thought leadership in arbitration and ADR more generally. I look forward to being actively involved in the initiatives of the Commission, notably the working groups to be set up. The Commission is a unique forum in which to engage with thought leaders in the field and to build on the diversity of our experiences. Having practiced in Asia most of my career, I am keen to bring that perspective.
If you could make one change to either commercial or investment arbitration proceedings, what would it be and why?
More diversity, starting with gender and geography. The change has started but has some way to go. The parties, their counsel, and the co-arbitrators being more pro-active about factoring in diversity when making nominations or appointments will be decisive. Arbitral institutions are instrumental but cannot carry the change by themselves.
How has your practice of arbitration changed since you first started?
I started practicing arbitration as an intern in Paris and then a junior associate in Singapore. The main change has been to the BIT arbitration side of my practice. When I first started, BIT arbitration was in its infancy, with only a handful of awards out, which I knew off the top of my head. A number of my cases early on were a first of their kind (for instance, SGS v Philippines on umbrella clauses or Padma v Bulgaria under the ECT). Fast forward a few years and BIT arbitration boomed, with now hundreds of awards available. Still, while the BIT issues are usually not as unprecedented as earlier on in my career, at least in Asia where we have not had waves of BIT cases relating to the same measures (see, e.g. Argentina and Spain), a number of BIT issues are being tested for the first times under Asian treaties.
What evolution do you anticipate in investment treaty arbitration in Asia?
There is growing awareness of investment arbitration in Asia, notably among Asian investors who are increasingly mindful of the possibility of investment treaty structuring. Asian countries have a widespread network of BITs and number of multilateral investment treaties, notably through the ASEAN. Contrary to other regions (see Europe or the announced intra-Africa AfCFTA Investment Protocol), there has not been a widespread rejection of investment arbitration in Asia (India and Indonesia being the few exceptions). There is therefore a strong network of investment treaties in place. Coupled with the increasing outbound Asian investment, I would expect an increasing number of investment treaty cases brought by Asian investors, notably intra-Asia and against African states in the energy, mining and infrastructure sectors. I also anticipate we will see more investment treaty arbitrations seated in Asia and/or heard under the auspices of Asia-based arbitral centres (which the ASEAN treaties allow for).
What recommendations would you give to up-and-coming practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?
Do not overspecialise, especially early on in your career. Looking at Singapore, practicing exclusively arbitration is already a significant specialisation, so get exposure to various types of arbitration (e.g. commercial construction, BIT) if you have the opportunity to, as opposed to focusing exclusively on one facet. Never compromise on the quality of the work, especially when you start having business development commitments, which take part of your time. And lastly, start building your own profile early on in your career. It is never too early and it does not happen overnight.