James Morrison

Peter & Kim

167 Macquarie Street, Level 7
2000, Sydney, Australia


Peers and clients say:

"James is a great legal mind"
"He is an excellent lawyer with a good international background"
"He is fantastic and undertakes massive multibillion dollar arbitrations"


I am a specialist in international arbitration, acting as arbitrator and counsel, with extensive experience working in arbitral institutions. As an Australian-qualified lawyer, I have worked with leading international firms, representing some of the world’s largest companies in a variety of complex, high-stakes commercial and investor-state disputes. I formerly was counsel at the ICC International Court of Arbitration in Paris and counsel at the Australian Centre for International Commercial Arbitration in Sydney.

What did you find most challenging about becoming an arbitrator?

Learning to back myself. Being one of the youngest people in the room for my first appointment as a sole arbitrator was a big deal at the time. But taking a deep breath and drawing on years of observing arbitrators at work helped me rise to the occasion with the confidence that I could do a good job even without grey hair.

How do you effectively prepare for a hearing as arbitrator?

Read. Re-read. And re-read again. Before the hearing, I draft summaries of the procedural background and the parties’ positions and evidence for later modification as necessary and adaption into the award. I like having the issues, references and documents ordered and mind-mapped before hearing the detailed argument. I prepare questions and issues for possible discussion with co-arbitrators and the parties during the hearing.

How have your previous experiences as counsel at the ICC and at the ACICA enhanced your work as an arbitrator today?

Administering a high volume of unique cases from all around the world has enabled me to experience the wonderful but also the wild in international arbitration. Seeing the dos and don’ts of both counsel and arbitrator work from inside different institutions has benefited and enhanced my work as an arbitrator considerably, particularly in terms of navigating complex procedural issues and award drafting.

What are the advantages of having diverse geographical and sector experience? What benefits do they deliver to clients?

Diverse experience translates into “arbitration reach” for our clients. The breadth of our matters means that we can run cases with real experience relevant to the places, people and problems that often emerge in our clients’ disputes. Arbitration reach extends beyond the substantive to also include a concrete network, which gives us knowledge of the arbitrators, lawyers and experts criss-crossing time zones and industries.

What difficulties do fixed-fee structures present for arbitration experts?

Fixed fees for experts can increase certainty and flexibility for parties around costs. However, they are usually agreed at an early stage in the proceedings. The true scope of work needed to assist the tribunal or the issues raised by the other side’s expert may only emerge later in a case. This can make it difficult to estimate fee caps. Also, internal budg¬etary restraints and external fee competi-tiveness may lead to a race to the bottom between experts to under cut on fixed fees. This might raise questions about an expert’s ability to discharge their duties to arbitrators to present her or his opinion fully and without appearance of bias. The focus could become securing an expert at the lowest cost to the detriment of the quality of the opinion. Ordinarily, however, these difficulties can be overcome by experienced experts and legal counsel.

In what ways is arbitration becoming greener? Do clients also have a role to play in this transformation?

Technology and pandemic disruption are making arbitration (only slightly) greener. Less paper and more hyperlinked bundles on smart devices mean more trees and less aeroplane contrails spiriting sometimes little read but almost always bulky files around the world. More people attending hearings from kitchen tables, dressed formally up top but pyjama bottoms down below. But there is still so much more work to be done and clients are key to making arbitration greener. They need to have confidence in and insist upon the use of new procedural technology in appropriate cases.

How does Peter & Kim distinguish itself from the competition?

Peter & Kim is: Nimble. Flexible. Adaptable. Creative. Cross-cultural. We count some of the world’s leading arbitrators among us but also a growing team of brilliant, dedicated and diverse young lawyers. We bridge common and civil laws and so can effectively persuade tribunals who also straddle them.

What advice would you give to someone starting out in arbitration?

Back yourself. Be direct in reaching out to established arbitration practitioners. Cultivate mentors. Publish (publish and publish again). Make and maintain networks and friendships. And most of all: enjoy yourself!