Adriana Vaamonde is the Executive Director of the Centro de Arbitraje Cámara de Caracas, the first institution to sign on as a Data Contributor with DRD.In the following interview, she talks about the value of data and how DRD is helping her institution meet their goals. “I don't see why anyone would not be interested in a program like DRD,” Vaamonde comments. “I think it is the perfect tool.”
Caracas joined the DRD effort, then under the leadership of Diana Droulers, who not only formerly headed that Centre, but is also the President of IFCAI (International Federation of Commercial Arbitration Institutions).
Tell me a little bit about your institution.
Centro de Arbitraje Cámara de Caracas (CACC) is an arbitration center that was founded in 1998. We have two fundamental activities: we administrate mediation and arbitration, and we promote ADR worldwide, in every activity we can. We give workshops nationally, so we can promote ADR within Venezuela, to make arbitration available for all kinds of companies--small, medium, and large. There is this huge myth that arbitration is only for big corporations or transnationals, or for people with a lot of money. In 2003, we incorporated procedures for small claims arbitration, so we have an extra tool for those who are not requesting big amounts of money.
What you see as the benefit of being a DRD Data Contributor?
For us, it's really important, because statistics are so important. Every time you host a conference, or tell people what ADR is, it's about how effective it is. You need information about what kind of cases you have; if they are defined by law; which law, where, how... statistics are very important for the public. People are interested in what we do, what we've done, and how we do it.
DRD is the perfect tool for a small arbitration center like ours. We can show that we are not only active in Venezuela, but we also have important international cases. For the work of arbitration centers, DRD is useful for professionals trying to make strategic decisions, such as what kind of clauses to incorporate when they are doing investments--especially in Latin America. It's very important to have the data. Since data didn’t previously exist at a global level, we were really interested in the project and how DRD will contribute to research worldwide.
There are two main ways you can examine the data through DRD--the first is using Data Contributor View to examine your own data, and then the ability to look at worldwide, aggregate data. I wonder if you could speak to how your institution might use the Data Contributor View as a way of seeing your own data?
The impact for us was really nice. I don't think we actually knew what specific data we could get from our own research. I was recently at a university workshop, and people were asking: how many national cases do you have? How many are international? Most people think about arbitration as international, something that only big companies or law firms use. It was really nice to be able use the data to tell people what we actually do--for example, who is able to reach arbitration and mediation. Looking at our data, we found out that we actually have more international cases than we thought. Even when both parties are Venezuelan, we’ve learned how often they use international law versus local law. For us, it has been a very useful tool to evaluate what we have, and what we've done in the past 18 years. And for me, it’s been great, because I have only been here for 6 years. It has been a very useful tool to figure out what was done before.
How will your institution use the aggregated data?
It's really nice to compare. It's a way to start research. Why do they have more arbitration? How can we have more arbitration? What incentives should we institute so we can reach those levels of consciousness about arbitration as the perfect dispute resolution method? I think it really helps to study where you are regionally and globally. The data shows you where you are and what your contributions are to the region.
Can you think of any specific examples where this kind of data might have been really useful to have in the past?
It would have been particularly useful when people came to consult about including an arbitration clause in their contract. Is it effective? Can I actually determine the particular law, et cetera? If we could have had those specifics, it would have been much easier to show people what we do, what has been done, and how effective it is.
What do you think other institutions should know about becoming a Data Contributor to DRD?
There is a global demand to know how things have been done, and where. I don't see why anyone would not be interested in a program like DRD. I think it is the perfect tool.
You may find out a lot about your institution while you're building the data to introduce it in the DRD program, and you might be surprised in how much work your institution and those before you have done. I think you can't know or foresee the impact your statistics are going to have, because information is absolute power.
Can you talk about the financial benefit that DRD provides institutions?
I think it's really helpful for smaller institutions. It's nice because we are not trying to make ourselves rich here--we just want to promote ADR. The income from DRD helps us accomplish the goals we set every year to grow ADR and build an effective dispute resolution network. It's a very nice way to accomplish our goals through this contribution to global studies. It's a win-win.