Jean Marguerat

MLL Legal

65 rue du Rhône
CH-1211, Geneva, Switzerland


Peers and clients say:

"A real common-sense person who approaches work in a nice way"
"Jean is a very sharp practitioner"
"He's extremely solid and reliable"


Involved in 100-plus international arbitration proceedings (ICC, Swiss Rules, CAS, VIAC, LCIA, DIA, ad hoc) – as counsel, arbitrator, or legal expert, involving sale of goods (incl. commodity trading), distribution, construction, JV, M&A, IP and sport-related disputes – Jean Marguerat also acts as counsel in matters concerning arbitration before Swiss courts. Jean co-chairs the Swiss Arbitration Association Geneva group and presides over the Spanish Arbitration Club’s Swiss chapter. He in one of the authors of the Commentary on the Swiss Rules of International Arbitration.

What motivated you to specialise in international dispute resolution?

Because it is fun! You work in an international context, you elaborate strategies, you put all your skills at play to win or settle on good terms for your client. Every case is unique, and you meet very interesting people from different countries and industries. Having studied and worked in Switzerland (both in French and German), Spain and England, international dispute resolution came as a natural choice.

What do clients look for in an effective arbitrator?

Clients look for fairness, efficiency and understanding. The cultural and human aspects are often overlooked; an effective arbitrator understands the legal, procedural and commercial elements of a matter in their context.

How has your membership of the Swiss Arbitration Association (ASA) enhanced your role as arbitrator?

ASA gives arbitration practitioners an excellent platform for education and opportunities for them to interact. It allowed me first to listen to experienced practitioners and then to also intervene as speaker or organiser of ASA events in Switzerland and abroad, enhancing my technical knowledge and expanding my network.

Sources report a trend of arbitration practitioners being involved when contracts are drafted. How does this benefit parties in a contract?

It is indeed my experience and it is certainly the best way to (i) ensure that the dispute resolution clause will correspond to the needs of the client, and (ii) avoid problems of pathological or inadequate clauses. I am always surprised by the number of pathological clauses I come across.

Many arbitral awards are starting to end up back in court for enforcement proceedings. Does arbitration have an enforcement issue, and how could this be addressed if so?

The New York Convention, on which enforcement rests, is a defining feature of international arbitration. Though it has been signed by a large majority of countries, it is true that each country has its particular approach towards its application, which can lead to huge differences. This issue is to be fixed in each country, through a liberal attitude towards arbitration both at legislative and judiciary levels.

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

The movement to allow the electronic submission of briefs and exhibits has accelerated during the pandemic and is here to stay. The same goes for the virtual hearings, at least for procedural hearings and hearings on the merits for small-value claims. Thanks to its adaptable nature, arbitration is becoming greener: both paperless exchanges and the holding of virtual hearings constitute a healthy and necessary progression towards an environmental-friendly practice. Clients have an important role in embracing these changes, which are in line with the global push for a greener economy.

What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?

Work hard, take responsibility on cases, participate actively in the young arbitrators’ groups to build a network with your peers, enjoy what you do, and remain true to yourself.

You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?

Win a case before the European Court of Human Rights (we have one pending now).