16, rue Passy
75116, Paris, France
Peers and clients say:
"Galina is an outstanding commercial arbitration specialist"
“Ms Zukova is a great arbitration lawyer".
Dually qualified in Paris and Latvia, Galina Zukova regularly serves as arbitrator (some 70 cases to date) across different continents and industries. She is a member of the ICC Court, the PCA, and the ICC Institute of World Business Law Council. Dr Zukova is included in the European Commission’s List of Candidates Suitable for Appointment as Arbitrators in EU trade and investment agreements with third states. She is professor of law at Versailles University and the Riga Graduate School of Law. She is fluent in English, French, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Latvian.
Why did you decide to set up your own firm?
Because my entrepreneurial muscle woke up. It was a combination of different factors, truly: professional references, need to have control over my own agenda, avoidance of conflicts of interest, independent control of time dedicated to academia and practice, my profile (a plurilingual Eastern European, based in France, with the past experience of working as ICC Counsel), and – let’s be open about it – financially, I could allow myself to take a risk for the first couple of years.
If you could introduce one reform to international arbitration what would it be and why?
To make it a rule in all the Arbitration Rules that at the outset of the proceedings the parties set out all the entities and individuals vis-à-vis whom arbitrators have to run conflict checks. This would dispel arbitrators’ paranoia about being challenged for insufficient disclosure and would do away with a good number of unmerited challenges closer to the end of the proceedings and at the enforcement stage. It’s time to accept that this should be a rule.
I also hope that in the future it will be a common place that a three-member tribunal is either jointly appointed by the parties or by the appointing authority, thus doing away with the party-nominated co-arbitrators.
How effective have the ICC’s expedited procedure provisions been at streamlining arbitrations?
Extremely efficient (and not only in the ICC framework)! The expedited procedure became a regular feature of the arbitration landscape, notwithstanding lots of criticism and disbelief just a decade ago.
What are the pros and cons of the increasing boutique-ification of the international arbitration market?
The two most obvious pros are flexibility in terms of fee arrangements and less potential for conflicts of interest. As to the cons, people often say that an independent practice may be lonely. Yet I don’t feel so, as I am a member of a number of arbitration institutes and task forces, besides an active teaching agenda. I still have not discovered a good “con” which would bring me back to a bigger structure.
What is the most essential skill for an arbitration lawyer to be successful?
An “arbitration lawyer” has to be versatile – jump from one industry to the other, from one legal conundrum to the other, from one legal culture to the other, while making sure that your clients remain satisfied with the quality of your work and your fellow arbitrators are heard. Good networking skills are of huge importance too.
What excites you the most about the future of arbitration practice?
If the question is about “my” arbitration practice, then the answer is that I am eager to discover new industries and new business niches. And if we speak about the arbitration practice generally, what excites and at the same time gives me a feeling of serenity, is that human nature is prone to disputes hence arbitration services will be always in demand.
What would you like to accomplish that you have not already?
To learn to delegate more!