Peers and clients say:
"Martin is a creative problem solver who seeks ways to put his clients in the best possible positions"
"He can see the bigger picture while paying attention to minute details where relevant"
"He grasped the crux of our issue extremely quickly and found a solution that we did not have on our radar"
A dual civil law-common law international attorney and arbitrator with over 20 years of experience, Martin Gusy’s practice offers unique insight into multiple verticals of international arbitration especially in the energy, finance, infrastructure and technology sectors.
As chair of Bracewell’s international arbitration practice, Martin serves private parties and sovereigns in complex commercial and investment disputes under all major arbitral rules involving interests around the globe. Martin has served as sole arbitrator, president of the tribunal and party-appointed arbitrator in more than three dozen arbitrations, also involving emergency arbitrations.
What motivated you to specialise in dispute resolution?
Both civil law and common law licensed, I started my legal work in continental Europe (Germany and France) before I tapped into the US legal system almost 20 years ago. I was fascinated by the very different approaches and enjoy cultural bridge building in the legal sector.
While both civil and common law disputes start with having to distinguish the person from the problem, the challenge of separating interests and values in both legal traditions is very different and every dispute presents its own very unique and complex dynamics when defining and engaging with the issues at stake. Living up to that challenge motivates me until this day.
What do clients look for in an effective arbitrator?
Emphasis on “effective” here, it is the art of doing justice. The effective arbitrator will make clients understand that s/he considers a client’s position in full and still reaches fair and just results while correctly applying the law to not only the facts but also the equities of the case.
You are currently serving on the Executive Committee of the New York International Arbitration Center (NYIAC). What are the organisation’s objectives and how has it enhanced your practice?
When I got first involved, the now global leader NYIAC started as an “I love New York” initiative and quickly rose to virtually the heart of the already well-established international arbitration community in New York. Of course, my practice benefits from NYIAC’s efforts to make New York a global center for international arbitration through high-quality programming and thought leadership as well as offering a place for conducting arbitrations and hosting events. From late Justice Judith Kaye, through James Carter, Edna Sussman and now Benno Kimmelman, it is a pleasure and an honor to assist them in continuing to build their and NYIAC’s record of achievement.
Sources report a trend of arbitration practitioners being involved when contracts are drafted. How does this benefit parties in a contract?
It takes one to know one – only an experienced dispute resolution attorney can draft a contract in a way that his/her corporate colleagues will not be surprised in contentious proceedings.
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?
As far as commercial disputes are concerned, most jurisdictions having implemented the New York Convention should continue to apply the policy favoring arbitration they embedded thereby. And as far as ISDS is concerned, it is sensible to ask whose perception reforms are trying to address: if the parties’, then party-autonomy should prevail; if the often government-argued legitimacy of the ISDS system is leading to increased challenges during the enforcement stage, then the empirical basis for desired reforms should always be critically analysed.
What advice would you give to younger practitioners hoping to one day be in your position?
A few years into practice, I asked this question to then practice leaders and was told, beyond hard work every day, it does take patience. While that is true as of this day as well, today’s younger practitioners may of course benefit from a much wider acceptance of international arbitration in the resolution of disputes.
You have enjoyed a very distinguished career so far. What would you like to achieve that you have not yet accomplished?
While having served parties, including sovereigns, both as an arbitrator and as counsel in headline-making disputes as well as even more confidential matters from which trends and noteworthy developments arise, I think the wisdom is: it takes 30 years to build a reputation, but only 5 minutes to lose one. By those terms, in the daily quest of doing the right thing, I’m afraid building my reputation still is very much to be achieved.