Rafał Kos is commended by peers as "extremely active and visible with a highly international practice" in the arbitration sphere.
Managing partner at and arbitration practice leader KKG with 26-plus years in practice and 16-plus years as arbitrator. Vice-president of the Confederation Lewiatan Arbitration Court. Permanent Arbitrator and Conciliator of the Arbitration Court at the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic of Poland. President and judge of the Warsaw Stock Exchange Arbitration Court. Member of the Polish delegation at the 73rd-77th sessions of UNCITRAL Working Group II: Arbitration and Conciliation/Dispute Settlement and the Minister of Economy’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Expert Team. He has acted as counselor and arbitrator in numerous proceedings under the rules of international institutions (ICC, VIAC, SAC, LCIA and others) as well as polish domestic institutions (SAKIG, SA Lewiatan, SIDIR, PGRP, and others).
What inspired you pursue a career in arbitration?
Pursuing a career in arbitration was a natural next step for my development. I have always acted in close connection with private law in the field of international academia. Over the years, I also practiced as a lawyer in domestic and foreign disputes with other top lawyers of our generation. I also have experience in business administration. All this gave me the basis to tackle arbitration when I first acted as counsel and when I got my first appointment. My entire academic and professional life has naturally directed me to a career in arbitration where law meets business.
How does your background in academia enhance you current practice?
I think this provides a solid base: we indeed know the law in the books and can easily apply it to case facts, and we also know the law in action, which also gives us the upper hand. In several years of my arbitral practice as counsel and arbitrator, I have seen many cases lost because the parties failed to do so precisely. It is evident that a party needs a good story to win. But the story needs to have strong legal and factual foundations. We always focus on that. This, compared with a business-oriented approach to effective case management, allows us to deliver services and satisfy clients’ needs.
What are the legal and practical considerations businesses should take into account when considering the use of alternative dispute resolution methods, such as arbitration?
The cases are lengthy. In comparison, even the biggest and most complicated arbitration can be conducted in ca. one year. However, this is under the condition that parties and the tribunal cooperate effectively to organise and manage the proceedings. Irrespective of my role in a given arbitration, I always focus on maximising the proceedings’ effectiveness. Arbitration is created to be tailored to the parties’ needs. Stakeholders should never refrain from using that opportunity, and I encourage my clients to do so.
What qualities make a successful counsel in arbitrations? Do these differ in traditional court litigation?
Counsel must: know the law, know the facts by heart, be diligent. This is the foundation of every lawyer. At least three more issues come into play in arbitration. Knowledge of the given business sector - this is, of course, also important in traditional litigation, but becomes essential in arbitration. They must be good managers. This is one of the key skills, in my opinion, for arbitrators, but for counsel as well. Finally, they must be excellent storytellers. Even the strongest legal arguments cannot resonate properly if they are not related to the specific story that the given arbitration tells.
With some hearings continuing to take place virtually, how do you adapt your litigation style to ensure you remain as effective appearing remotely as you do in-person?
Preparation is the key. Protocols and checklists for virtual hearings are very helpful. However, from my perspective, virtual hearings create additional challenges, most notably a shorter attention span than in regular proceedings. It is easier to interact if you are in the same physical space. Virtual hearings also present new opportunities for counsels - you have to seriously rethink the visual aids and remember that the voice - its tone, pitch, pace - becomes your key tool.
What makes Kubas Kos Gałkowski stand out from its competitors in the market?
In our work, we use the experience we have gained in arbitration cases both in Poland and abroad, acting as counsel, arbitrators, tribunal secretaries and expert witnesses. A team of attorneys specialising in business arbitration, with many years of practice in client representation, supported by numerous academic achievements in the field of arbitration proceedings, guarantees the highest standard of legal services. We cooperate with foreign law firms on trans-border arbitration cases, which allows us to exchange experiences and join forces with our foreign counterparts in the client’s best interest.
Looking back over your career, what has been your proudest achievement?
There are many achievements I am proud of, but the one that gives me most pride is seeing the development of KKG and its new talents. It has been very fulfilling, giving them the opportunity to grow and seeing their careers progress.